For the first time in more than 600 years white storks have hatched in the wild in Britain.
The stork hatchlings were born earlier this month at Knepp Castle Estate—a private landowner in West Sussex—due to the work of the White Stork Project (WSP).
The project is a coalition of nature conservation organizations and private landowners working to restore breeding stork populations. Organizations include the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the Warsaw Zoo.
“We are excited about the news of the first white stork chicks in hundreds of years,” the White Stork Project wrote on Twitter. “They are only recently hatched & take 60 days to fledge.”
The White Stork Project
The pair of storks responsible for the new baby hatchling were unsuccessful at breeding last year. But in April, the WSP said the pair were finally able to breed and confirmed the sighting of five eggs—which hatched on May 6—in a nest of a large oak tree.
After the birds hatched, the group’s project officer—Lucy Groves—reported seeing the parents removing eggshell from the birds and feeding them.
“The parents have been working hard and are doing a fantastic job, especially after their failed attempt last year,” Groves said in a statement.
Groves added: “These are early days for the chicks, and we will be monitoring them closely, but we have great hopes for them. This is just one step towards establishing this species in the South of England. It may be a small step, but it is an exciting one.”
This is the first time that white storks have hatched in Britain since 1416, reports iNews. According to the WSP, habitat loss and over-hunting led to the birds decline.
The WSP’s ultimate goal is to get the white stork population to a total of 50 breeding pairs in southern England by 2030.