Distance and direction of natal dispersal were studied in a Polish White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) population on the basis of 25 years of banding and resighting data. Multiple regression analysis showed a significant sex-linked bias (females settled farther from the natal sites than males) and effect of banding year, in that dispersal distances were decreasing toward the end of the study period. Population indices in the hatching year and the presumed recruitment year did not help to explain the variance. The birds showed a trend toward settling southeast of the natal site, but this was significant only in individuals that settled within 50 km of the natal site. We suggest that when returning from winter sites in the southeast, young White Storks settle before they reach their presumed migratory target in the vicinity of the natal site. This is only possible if, in spite of a relatively high population density, many breeding areas and potential nesting sites remain vacant. This might also explain our failure to find density dependence in the interannual variation of dispersal distances.
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