This picture from Ukraine of a stalwart mother stork nesting her two chicks has become a ‘symbol of hope’ for the country.
The new nest was photographed on the outskirts of Kyiv—months after a violent invasion interrupted the normal arrival of the majestic species for annual mating here.
Storks are a ‘sacred’ bird in Ukraine, where they nest every spring after wintering in Africa.
Of the 224,000 storks that visit Europe every year, 16 percent build new nests or return to established ones in Ukraine, and raise chicks through the end of summer.
Some birds have begun to return to their usual nesting areas now, bringing hope to Ukrainians living with the aftermath of the Russian invasion.
Pictures of the nest were taken by the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds. Their director, Oleg Dudkin, explained that the explosions, shelling, and roar of tanks frightened the storks away.
However, these new images captured in the town of Moshchun, 10 miles from Kyiv, show the return of storks is underway—at least for this couple that set up a home.
According to local tradition, storks are seen as a symbol for the arrival of spring, and as an age-old symbol of fertility. They also symbolize “a big harvest, as well as family happiness, procreation, cessation of conflicts and love for the homeland.”
“She has come to symbolize not merely a mother’s devotion to her young but also the great love and devotion of Ukrainians to their motherland and a readiness not to leave,” said Dudkin.
“The storks returned a few days after the Russian troops left the village and immediately began to rearrange their usual nesting place.”
“Storks will always be amulet birds for Ukrainians, strengthening the hope for peace and the inevitable victory of spring over winter and good over evil.”