Review of the Boci@n Project

The Boci@n Project was being implemented in the years 2009-2010 by the Polish Society of Wildlife Friends „Pro Natura”, in cooperation with its partner organization SOS/BirdLife Slovensko.

Review of the Boci@n Project implementation

The aim of the Boci@n Project was to protect and monitor the Polish population of the white stork through a development and activities of a network of volunteers throughout the country. The project involved observation of stork nests and feeding grounds, and undertaking actions aimed at preserving this species. The project strengthened an active attitude towards storks and expanded knowledge on methods of their protection. A key role in the project was played by the internet as an effective method of communication, promotion and information access.

Cooperation with the Slovak partner

The partner organization was SOS/BirdLife Slovensko, which keeps an internet database of white stork nests and updates it in cooperation with Slovak volunteers. By taking advantage of the experiences of the Slovak colleagues and adapting some of their solutions to the Polish conditions, one managed to develop principles of functioning of the All-Polish white stork nest internet database and internet service system for associates collecting  information on storks throughout Poland.

Project participantsfot. Tomasz Mądryfot. Tomasz Mądry

The Boci@n Project was directed to the general public, and particularly to everyone interested in observing and protecting nature. The program participants included both long standing associates of the Polish Society of Wildlife Friends „Pro Natura”, as well as new persons and institutions. Schools were a separate group among the project participants. Having them in mind, Boci@n teaching materials, designed for teachers and facilitating actions and classes on stork observation and protection, were prepared. In order to reach a wider audience, a special website was created. As a result of the project implementation, the network of associates of PTPP "Pro Natura”, acting for the sake of the protection of storks in Poland, has increased to 1000 schools and 2500 private fot. Zespół Szkół w Siemyślufot. Zespół Szkół w Siemyślupersons and institutions. Within the framework of activities conducted by schools in the years 2009-2010, over 16 thousand pupils and students, and one thousand teachers became involved in various tasks for the benefit of the storks. Reports sent by schools show that the volunteers had worked over 35 thousand hours.

Among institutions cooperating with PTPP „Pro Natura” in the project implementation process, one can find: communal offices, district authorities, national and landscape parks, environmental education centers, social institutions, power distribution companies, fire service, municipal police, animal rehabilitation centers and forestry institutions.

Internet tools for the project implementation

The website, developed for the needs of the project, provides basic information on storks, instructions on how to repair their nests, how to help injured birds, preserve their feeding grounds, and encourages to undertake specific activities aimed at protecting the storks. A key element of the website are two all-Polish white stork internet databases: nest database and activity database, which can be contributed to by anyone  interested in the project.

All-Polish white stork nest database

The Boci@n project helped to launch the All-Polish White Stork Nest Database in internet. This way information about white stork nests in Poland was made available to the general public. It is also possible to add new information, or amend or supplement the already existing one. Many people add their own observations or pictures of stork nests to the internet database, making a valuable contribution to the process of monitoring the Polish white stork population. The All-Polish White Stork Nest Database was developed, based on the state administrative division.

Information collected during field inspections and sent by observers to the All-Polish White Stork Nest Database enable one to analyse basic parameters of the stork population condition in our country. The collected data are presented in the form of graphs 1-3. Implementation of the Boci@n project allows one to present for the first time results for the years 2006 – 2010.

Graph 1. Average number of grown up young per hatching pairGraph 1. Average number of grown up young per hatching pair

  Graph 2. Average number of grown up young per pair with a previous hatching successGraph 2. Average number of grown up young per pair with a previous hatching success


Graph 3. Percentage of pairs with no hatching successGraph 3. Percentage of pairs with no hatching success

 All-Polish White Stork Activity Database

The purpose of the All-Polish White Stork Activity Database is to present all activities undertaken for the benefit of the white stork that have taken place in Poland since 2009. It includes a description of local projects and one-time events as well as long-term activities undertaken by individuals, schools, various institutions and organisations in the years 2009-2010. At the end of 2010 the database could boast a record of 6500 activities undertaken by  members and associates of the PTPP "pro Natura" as well as individuals, institutions and organisations conducting their own independent activities and projects connected with the protection of the white stork. The database structure is based on the administrative division of Poland. It presents effective methods of helping the birds, examples of solving specific stork-related problems and promoting an active attitude towards and involvement in the white stork protection. All this contributes to the development of a social movement for the preservation of storks and their habitat.

Graph 4. Number of various types of activities conducted for the benefit of storks in Poland in years 2009-2010, presented in the activity databaseGraph 4. Number of various types of activities conducted for the benefit of storks in Poland in years 2009-2010, presented in the activity database

 Activities undertaken by a network of volunteers

Apart from monitoring stork nests, the project participants were involved in many activities undertaken for the benefit of the stork. The collected results, effects of their work and examples of performed assignments are presented on the website in the nest database and activity database.

Monitoring stork nests

One of the assignments implemented by individuals, schools and other institutions cooperating with the Polish Society of Wildlife Friends „Pro Natura”, within the Boci@n Project, was collection of information on stork nests and updating the all-Polish nest database. The observers sent information on single nests or all nests in a given area as well as results of inventory of the entire commune. To save and send the results, they used electronic forms available on the website or paper forms which they received from PTPP „Pro Natura”. Apart from collecting information on location and condition of the stork nests, dates of return spring flights, effects of hatching, losses of eggs or reasons for the chicks' death, some persons maintained photographic documentation of visited nests, adding updated data to communal maps. All information about the nests and places where they cannot be found received from the associates, enriched the All-Polish White Stork Nests Database and contributed to monitoring of the white stork in Poland.

fot. Zespół Szkół w Wielowsifot. Zespół Szkół w Wielowsifot. Przedszkole Samorządowe w Dobrociniefot. Przedszkole Samorządowe w Dobrociniefot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Nowym Zamkufot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Nowym Zamku









Protection of the nests

Activities of importance in terms of stork preservation, undertaken by individuals and institutions in years 2009-2010, involved restoring the white stork nests and constructing platforms in order to encourage the stork pairs to settle. Interventions concerning the endangered nests were undertaken in various situations, including such incidents as collapsing of the nests due to adverse weather conditions or a tree or post fall. Sometimes location of the nest, for example on a used chimney, posed a threat to residents and their possessions. In some situations the problem was caused by a too large size of the nest, which had to be made smaller, or by branches blocking access to the nest that needed to be cut out. It also happened that when the birds couldn't manage with the nest they started to build in a particular place, people rushed to help them. Works on restoration of the nests involved moving the nests to a safe place, building and installation of platforms and erection of posts with platforms. Some relatively easy tasks were often performed by the property owners, however many of the tasks required specialist equipment for example forklifts. Institutions involved mostly in the nest renovation were power distribution companies and fire service. The project was also supported by communal offices, district environmental conservation boards, and other organisations. The Polish Society of Wildlife Friends „Pro Natura” within the framework of the Boci@n project received a lot of reports about endangered nests and provided substantive and organisational support in the process of nest renovation. The All-Polish White Stork Nest Database contains over 2000 information about nest renovations and installations of platforms in the years 2009-2010.

fot. Gimnazjum w Kawęczyniefot. Gimnazjum w Kawęczyniefot. Andrzej Świniarskifot. Andrzej Świniarskifot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Lipinkachfot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Lipinkach








Identifying and monitoring stork feeding grounds

A vast majority of schools involved in the Boci@n Project monitored stork feeding grounds. The pupils and students were supposed to find in their nearest area stork feeding grounds and to monitor them during the hatching season. They also analysed selected feeding grounds, took photos, marked species of plants and animals found there and spoke to owners of the monitored areas. This way they learned the stork biology, natural value of meadowland and diversity of species inhabiting grassland and marshy land.

fot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Budzyniufot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Budzyniufot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Tomaszowie Bolesławieckimfot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Tomaszowie Bolesławieckimfot. Zespół Szkół w Wielowsifot. Zespół Szkół w Wielowsi









Preservation of the feeding grounds

Preservation of the feeding grounds involved activities such as tiding areas inhabited by  storks (done mainly by schools), informing owners of these areas about the natural value and a need for maintaining the existing usage of this land, which shouldn't be transformed into arable area, and also about the need of giving up disposing of the wastes, rubble etc. The activists also conducted certain local information campaigns directed towards the farmers, e.g. against the grass burning  The activity database also includes initiatives undertaken by various institutions, for example foresteries, national parks, other organisations to preserve areas of great natural interest, such as stork feeding grounds. The initiatives involved among others cutting out bushes overgrowing meadows, mowing and grazing in order to preserve natural values of a given area, developing ecological land and reconstructing the marshy character of dried areas.

fot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Kobylanachfot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Kobylanachfot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Chodywańcachfot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Chodywańcach

fot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Kaliniefot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Kalinie 









fot. Andrzej Śliwiński, LO w Miechowiefot. Andrzej Śliwiński, LO w Miechowie

Collecting the strings

Removing plastic strings threatening stork chicks, from fields and meadows, was an action readily undertaken by schools in many regions of Poland. Pupils, aware of the danger posed by strings left by the farmers after work, and later collected by mature storks to line the nests, penetrated areas of the monitored nests in search of these strings. They also appealed to the farmers for not leaving strings on the fields, by leaflets, posters, newspaper articles and conversations. Each year some young storks get entangled in the strings in their own nests and die as a result of sustained injuries and infections. Clearing the farming areas from these strings is a very important prevention measure. In the years 2009-2010 the pupils and students participating in the Boci@n project collected and removed a total of 110.000 metres of strings.

fot. Anna Socha, ZS w Łubiancefot. Anna Socha, ZS w Łubiancefot. Zespół Przedszkolno-Szkolny w Łąkiemfot. Zespół Przedszkolno-Szkolny w Łąkiemfot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Dużej Cerkwicyfot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Dużej Cerkwicy 







Rescuing injured storks

The activity database contains almost 1000 described examples of assistance offered to the injured birds in the years 2009-2010. The majority of rescue operations took place during the chick raising time, during the time of teaching the young how to fly and during bird migrations. The found storks had broken wings or legs, were injured as the result of power line or car collision. While learning to fly, the young were often injured by crashing into various obstacles. During the hatching season some of the storks fell out of the nests or were sometimes thrown out by their parents. Weak or injured storks often found shelter at farms, where they had been look after by people who fed them until the birds received a professional help. Usually a veterinary surgeon was called in and help for the birds was organised with the support of local institutions. Depending on the situation, various institutions like communal offices, birds rescuing centres, municipal police and fire service were involved in providing help for the storks. Often the injured storks had to be caught and sent to a bird shelter, or a special forklift had to be used to put the chick back into its nest. In Poland there are several dozen wild animal rehabilitation centers and bird shelters that look after storks. Information on their activities can be found in the All-Polish White Stork Activity Database. PTPP „Pro Natura” received many reports about injured storks from various regions of Poland and often participated in organizing local help for the storks. fot. Zespół Szkół w Wielowsifot. Zespół Szkół w Wielowsifot. Gimnazjum nr 1 w Koluszkachfot. Gimnazjum nr 1 w Koluszkachfot. Gimnazjum w Kijachfot. Gimnazjum w Kijach









Stork Day Festival

Institutions involved in the Boci@n project were eager to organise the Stork Day Festival. Schools were especially active in this field. This was the way of emphasising the significance of storks in the Polish culture and tradition, and of promoting knowledge on this species and the idea of its preservation. Various events, assemblies, festivals and talks about storks were held in May and June. Other popular forms of celebrating the stork day were performances, competitions, exhibitions, and various activities and games on stork related topics. There were also stork balls, stork fashion shows and reviews of songs. The celebrations often took place in the open area during trips, hikes or picnics. An essential element of the Stork Day Festival was to provide the local community with information on stork preservation. This purpose was served by leaflets, various marches, broadcast programs and exhibitions. Various forms of educational, artistic and stork promotion activities took place not only within the framework of the festival, but also in other periods of time. fot. Szkoła Podstawowa nr 107 we Wrocławiufot. Szkoła Podstawowa nr 107 we Wrocławiufot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Gniewiefot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Gniewiefot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Bożewiefot. Szkoła Podstawowa w Bożewie








fot. ZS w Wielowsifot. ZS w Wielowsi



The majority of activities undertaken for the benefit of the storks require cooperation. In the activity database one can find examples of various situations, when the “stork problems” were solved thanks to the involvement, mutual help, friendliness and cooperation of various people.




Supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and also Republic of Poland budget within the Non-Governmental Organisations fund.