March 25th, Stork Day!
The Stork Day (Gandrinės) has come to Lithuania. As our folks remember, March 25th is the day when people celebrate the return of their most devoted bird, White Stork. Not every year do White Storks manage to come back for this particular day – sometimes they celebrate this day in the territories south of Lithuania. This year, the first White Storks returned on Match 8th, so we can see them everywhere today.
The White Stork is an exceptional bird species in Lithuania. It settled in our land over 2000 years ago and is still our devoted neighbour. White Storks resemble Lithuanian folks – they live in the neighbourhood of people, yet have not become close domestic birds – they know their value. They, probably, learned such behaviour from our ancestors. Lithuanians have always cherished neighbourhood of these birds – not only did they help building nests, but also glorified them in their folksongs and fairytales. Prof. Tadas Ivanauskas wrote about the White Stork: "...Where the man takes care of it, it expresses its gratitude through confidence. The man and the White Stork as if makes a contract, and such contract is confirmed by a sign of an old cart wheel or a harrow lifted on a tree or on the roof. Thus, if our bird sees such a sign, it knows for sure that nothing bad will happen and sits on the nest and observes calmly the people working around.... It seems that the White Stork and the man started getting on long ago, which could most probably be explained by human closeness ensuring the safety of birds...".
White Storks are the only birds that have two "festive" days in Lithuania – Stork Day on March 25th and Stork Leaving Day, or St. Bartholomew's Day, on August 24th.
Text and photos by Nature Research Centre's Senior Specialist Selemonas Paltanavičius