The number of storks spread throughout France has tripled in recent years, with more and more reports of the long-legged birds staying in the country throughout the year.
The birds, which usually migrate southwards to Africa for winter, now often opt to stay in France instead of making the voyage due to the warmer climate and an increased abundance of food during the season.
Formerly only present in the Alsace region, storks have become more common across all of France, even deep into the south west, as the winter weather in France becomes more hospitable for them.
In addition, they are becoming more used to living in close proximity to humans and are often now seen in gardens or flying over houses.
Storks choosing not to migrate
Generally, storks breed and spend their summer months across Central and Eastern Europe, parts of the Iberian peninsula and North Africa, but not France.
The changing climate in France, however, means more are staying permanently in the country.
“There is the desert crossing, the Mediterranean crossing. It's a very energy-intensive ordeal, where you can't be sure of surviving,” said Enzo Vignon, a member of the Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (Bird protection league).
“If it can be avoided by spending the winter in a place where there is still enough to eat, it is much better,” he added.
Although many thousands of storks still fly over France on their annual migrations to Africa, the number staying in the country has tripled in ten years.
Currently around 9,000 storks live in France on a permanent basis.
A ‘majestic animal’
Until 15 years ago “there weren’t any” storks in the skies near Saint-Laurent-des-Hommes, a village in the Dordogne.
However, “They've been here permanently for ten or 15 years,” said one resident to news outlet TF1.
For those living close to the birds for the first time, they have been a welcome addition.
“It's really impressive. They are majestic animals. They are really wide [have a long wingspan], especially when they fly,” said one resident in another Dordogne village.
“When passing right over the house we are quite amazed to see them,” she added.
The video below posted on X (formerly Twitter) shows storks flying in the skies above Paris.
The photos below show storks resting in Donzère, Drôme, close to Avignon.
They have also recently been spotted in Besançon.
This close up shows storks in a new location.
Surprise du soir, bonsoir ❤️ hier une vingtaine de cigognes ont élu domicile dans le hameau pour la nuit, une première en 23 ans un rien suffit à rendre heureux et à s'émerveiller (crédit photo Fabienne Bourdil ) pic.twitter.com/gDdYePAGEU— Hotas 01 (@TBourdil) September 5, 2023
“Around 20 storks took up residence in the hamlet for the night yesterday, a first in 23 years,” the poster said alongside the photo.
Keep calm if you see them in your garden
If you are lucky enough to see a stork in your garden, advice is to leave it alone and watch from a distance.
“From time to time we get people calling us, more or less panicked, to tell us they've got a stork in their garden and they are not sure what to do,” said Mr Vignon.
“There is nothing specific to do, it's just there, feeding. After that, it'll be on its way again,” he concluded.
With the storks venturing further south in France in recent years some readers may have photos of storks in their gardens, which we would love to see.
If you have any photos, or any stories about storks visiting your home, please send them to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.