Returning white storks to Britain

Historically, white storks would breed and nest in the south of England, but they disappeared from the UK hundreds of years ago. We’re now working with our partners to make these charismatic birds a symbol of British wildlife once again.

Found across Europe, white storks typically nest in the north before flying south to warmer climates. They then return to their nest sites for the breeding season. Our aim is to have 50 breeding pairs in southern England by 2030.

White stork perch on a fence post
Animal facts

Key facts about the white stork

Card Icon

I'm found in Europe and Africa

White storks breed and nest in Europe before flying south to Africa in the spring.

Card Icon

I'm a symbol of good luck

White storks symbolise good luck and rebirth in many cultures.

 

Card Icon

I returned to England after 600 years

White storks became extinct in England hundreds of years ago, but have now been returned to British skies.

166

estimated UK population

2020

first UK chicks

2m

average wingspan

Durrell is working to make white storks a symbol of British wildlife once again

Our conservation work

What we're doing to help white storks

Location

Bringing white storks back to England

White storks disappeared from the UK hundreds of years ago. Historically, they would breed and nest in southern England, before some migrated south to Europe and Africa.
What we're doing to help
Through the release of rehabilitated storks, captive breeding, and population management, three areas across Sussex and Surrey are now home to hundreds of white storks. We’ve seen breeding success and our released birds have been spotted across Europe and northern Africa. The aim is to have 50 breeding pairs in the UK by 2030.
Durrell Icon

Monitoring released storks

By tagging many of the released birds with GPS trackers, we can see their migration patterns in almost real-time, which allows us to see where they travel to, as well as monitor where else in the UK they fly to. Some storks have been seen flying to other areas, showing the potential of establishing stork populations across southern England.
What we're doing to help
By tagging many of the released birds with GPS trackers, we can see their migration patterns in almost real-time, which allows us to see where they travel to, as well as monitor where else in the UK they fly to. Some storks have been seen flying to other areas, showing the potential of establishing stork populations across southern England.
Rainforest

Empowering nature connection

It is known that many people around the world feel disconnected from nature, through increasing built-up areas and a lack of opportunity to see wildlife.
What we're doing to help
The charismatic white stork is an important ambassador for nature connection in the UK. It is hoped that by seeing this unique and recognisable bird in England's skies once again, people will feel reconnected with the natural world.
Storks in a field in the UK

A symbol of hope for the natural world

Never in human history have we spent so little time in contact with nature. Whilst there is growing evidence of the benefits of nature connection for health, wellbeing, education, and as a driver of environmentally conscious behaviour, generation by generation we have become increasingly disconnected from it.

The white stork has long represented new life and renewal. As a charismatic bird that often lives in close association with people, there is no stronger symbol to restore our relationship with the natural world.

The White Stork Project is a pioneering partnership between Durrell, the Knepp Estate, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Wadhurst Park, Wintershall Estate and Roy Dennis Foundation.

Support our work