Blue Stork Finds True Love in Spite of Curious Color

blue stork by Andreas Koeckeritz photo

Image: © Andreas Koeckeritz / Pixelio

Spring always portends the return of storks to the large nests which top chimneys and towers across the German landscape. But this year in Biegen, about an hour east of Berlin, residents were astonished when one stork returned with bright blue feathers! The stork's colorful plumes have incited many theories and a great deal of concern. In particular, would the blue bird be accepted by a mate?

Now, only days after the blue stork's first appearance in Biegen, residents and spectators are greatly relieved to watch as the strange stork has been joined in the traditional mating rituals by a female of the normal black-and-white variety. Clad in such bright blue finery, the stork's unusual mating dance transforms into a surrealistic interpretation of artificial and natural.

With resolution in the stork's love life, the original riddle returns: how did this stork turn blue?Attempts were made to get a feather from the stork or its nest, for chemical analysis which might help explain the source of the blue color. But conservation organizations intervened to stop the activity which might have scared off any potential mate.

So curious crowds are left to speculate. Theories circulating in German newspapers include:

  • Did the stork fall into some paint while seeking food in a garbage dump?
  • Did someone paint it, or shoot at it with a paint gun?
  • Could coloring in its food cause blue feathers?
  • Did the stork spend time in the dye works at Maghreb, while flying through Morocco on its migrations?
  • Could it be due to mutations?

Ornithological expert Michael Kaatz has calmed German bird-lovers by reassuring us that the blue color will fade and finally disappear within two years, as the stork naturally loses and replaces its feathers. But we have found no such assurances regarding any effects a chemical dyestuff might have on the bird's health as it preens its feathers. Just one more reason substitution of safer chemicals is always a good idea.

More on birds and chemicals:
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