Same-sex stork couple from Czechia makes international headlines


A pair of white storks from Czechia have recently made international headlines. The unusual couple, consisting of two females, have been nesting on a chimney in south Bohemia, taking turns in caring for their two chicks. According to ornithologists, it is the first recorded case of a same-sex pair among white storks.

The story began on March 19, when a female stork nestled on a chimney in the south Bohemian town of Chýnov, which has been closely monitored by ornithologists with a live webcam.

The female, who raised three chicks at the site the previous year, was later joined by another stork. After they started taking turns in laying a record eight eggs, it became obvious the two birds were in fact both female.

However, given that there was no male in sight, ornithologists were sceptical about the eggs being fertilised – until May 23, when the first chick hatched, followed by another two.

Same-sex stork couple in Chýnov | Photo: CAM Chýnov,  Czech Ornithological Society

Jiří Vermouzek is the head of the Czech Ornithological Society:

“We know that in the case of white stork, the mating usually takes place in the nest, so the fertilisation remains something of a mystery. So it must have taken place somewhere outside the nest and we don’t have any record of it.”

“What happened to the stork father and why the two females decided to create a couple is shrouded in mystery. Very probably, there was a lack of adequate males for the original female and so she decided to accept the other female as her partner.”

While one of the three chicks died soon after hatching, the other two have been thriving, and the mothers have been exemplary in sharing their nest duties.

Since none of the five remaining eggs have hatched to date, it looks like they have not all been fertilised, after all, says Mr. Vermouzek.

“We plan to run some genetic analyses to ascertain the maternity and paternity of the chicks. But since some of the eggs have not hatched, it is likely that only one of the females is the mother.”

According to ornithologists, some same-sex couples in birds are fairly common. However, the couple from Chýnov is the first such case recorded among white stork.

Black and white stork - two different bird species sharing a nest in Horní Cerekev | Photo: Jan Ipri,  Czech Ornithological Society

Another unusual stork pair has been observed in the village of Horní Cerekev in the Bohemian Moravian highlands, where a white and black stork, two different bird species, are sharing a nest. Mr. Vermouzek says that while uncommon, such cases have already been observed in the past:

“This year, a similar case was recorded in Germany. Generally, we can say that such behaviour is being driven by human activity.

“In this case, it was probably caused by the destruction of the black stork’s nest somewhere in the vicinity, because of the bark beetle calamity.

“The black stork then tried to find some breeding platform nearby, found a white stork nest and mated with the female.”

On Monday, there were reports that the smaller of the two chicks has had some health issues and is being treated by veterinarians.

You can follow further development on YouTube.