Best time to travel to Ukraine

White Storks in Ukraine

Each year, these magnificent birds return to their old nesting sites in the Ukrainian countryside

Best time: April–August

White Storks
White Storks
White Storks
White Storks
White Storks

A white stork is Ukrainians' favorite bird. The feathered friends nest near people's houses throughout most of Ukraine, except only a few eastern regions and the Crimean Peninsula. But the best chances to spot stork nests are in the countryside. The season lasts from April through August, with the first birds arriving in late March and the last ones leaving in early September.

In Ukrainian a stork is called "leleka" or "bus'ko". This glorious bird symbolizes welfare—those who have a stork nest next to their house can expect a great fortune. Some Ukrainians even decorate their backyards with stork statues just to have the lucky image in sight. A stork is also a symbol of faithfulness, as the mates are normally monogamous. Besides, these birds are loyal to their breeding grounds—they typically return to their last year's nesting sites.

White storks like nesting on the roofs, high trees, but most often on different pillars along the roads, and necessarily near water. Whenever you ride in a car or a train, keep your eyes peeled outside the window, and you'll surely spot a few stork nests up there, sometimes empty, while sometimes with a stork or a whole stork family inside. It's also possible to glimpse a stork or two graciously floating above fields or leisurely strolling around in search of food.

As nights get colder by the end of summer, these warm-loving birds get ready for the journey to their wintering grounds in Africa and South Asia. Large flocks of storks gather in the fields and perform a sort of farewell ritual whirling in the sky before they finally depart. Such storks' performance is a stunning and moving spectacle to behold. It's always sad to say goodbye, but luckily, these birds are coming back in half a year.

Practical info

When can you expect to see white storks in Ukraine?

White storks can be observed from April until August in Ukraine. This period corresponds to their breeding and chick-raising season. The first birds typically arrive in late March, and the last ones leave in early September. The departure of the storks coincides with the drop in temperature towards the end of the summer. Show more

What are some good places to look for white stork nests in Ukraine?

In Ukraine, you can spot white stork nests on high platforms such as trees and pillars lining roads, especially near water bodies and in small villages. The nests are typically visible from the road. Regions that are known for their high population of storks include Kyiv, Lviv, and western rural areas of Ukraine. Show more

What is the perception of white storks among Ukrainians?

White storks are highly regarded by the Ukrainians, representing good fortune and prosperity. They are commonly associated with fidelity because they are monogamous. Thus, people adorn their backyards with stork statues or set up real stork nests. To celebrate their arrival, festivals such as the Stork Festival are held annually in some regions, especially near Kyiv. Show more

At what time of the year do white storks undertake migration to their wintering grounds?

White storks leave for their wintering grounds in early September. This period coincides with the abrupt drop in night-time temperatures, which is a signal for the birds to prepare for migration. The storks gather in fields and then embark on their long journey that covers thousands of kilometers and can take the birds several months to complete, crossing Europe and Africa in the process. Show more

Where do white storks migrate to during winter?

White storks travel to Africa and South Asia for the winter season. In Africa, the birds gather and congregate in specific bottlenecks, including the Bosporus, Suez, or Straits of Gibraltar. On the other hand, in South Asia, they head to countries such as India and Sri Lanka. While younger birds fly with their parents, mature birds pair with other storks they meet along their migration route. Show more

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Last updated:
Authors: Olha Savych