The establishment of regular wintering of the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) in southern France has been documented by regular census data and individual identification of banded birds. The number of wintering storks rose from eight in 1996-1997 to 172 in 2003-2004. Most records (87%) came from the Montpellier region (43°34’N, 3°54’E). The birds mainly originated from western Germany, eastern France and western Switzerland and about half were probably immature. Compared to storks observed on autumn and spring migration, first-winter birds were under-represented. We discuss the factors likely to explain the settlement of this new wintering area: its location on the migration route of the increasing northwest European stork population, the presence of a rubbish dump and adverse effects of wintering in Africa.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4