The white stork is the only large European bird that has attached itself to human beings. These elegant-looking birds build their nests on roofs and chimneys and are held by people to be lucky and feature in fables where they are said to bring babies. People generally like storks and the village of Rühstädt, known as “Europe’s Stork Village”, profits from bird-loving tourism. March through August, when the migrating storks return from Africa, is high season in “Starkville”. The storks have a mere hundred days or so to meet up, breed, and raise their young.
But the struggles of stork life largely go unnoticed by the tourists. In reality, the storks fight with rapier beaks over possession of their nests, destroy other storks’ clutches of eggs, and are at the mercy of the weather around the clock. Rain, heat and predators reduce the number of chicks, and at the first sign of sickness, the weakest chicks are thrown out of the nest by their parents. The villagers often step in with a helping hand.
For a whole summer, the camera tracks the storks’ lives on the rooftops and in the surrounding fields, capturing unusual and often surprising images from the storks’ private lives and their fight for survival.