Monday, April 04, 2016

Storks Eat More Junk, Migrate Less as Planet Warms

Storks in southern Europe have become junk food junkies.

Thousands have given up their winter migratory habits to feast on trash in landfills as resident birds. When the dump trucks arrive, storks swoop in for a feast of rotten fish, rancid chicken, and leftover hamburger and pizza.

The putrid smell does not bother the storks, who nest nearby and raise their young.

These same birds once spent the winter in sub-Saharan Africa, says conservation ecologist Aldina Franco. Her team at the University of East Anglia in England equipped 48 birds with GPS devices to track their positions five times a day. Each tracker also collected accelerometer information with detailed data about the birds' behavior.

Writing for the journal Movement Ecology, Franco says migrating patterns began to change about 30 years ago.

"We started seeing some individuals [storks] remaining in Europe the whole year," Franco said.......

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