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'Max the stork' captured for new satellite tracker

Published: 30 Aug 2012 11:11 GMT+02:00

A new radio transmitter has been fitted on Max, a 13-year-old white stork, the natural history museum of Fribourg announced on Wednesday.

The stork was captured and released at a nesting ground in Tüffingen, southern Germany, just ahead of the annual migration period, the museum said.

After monitoring the bird’s activities by satellite since its birth, the museum lost track of it in March when the transmitter ceased operating.

The stork had resisted several previous attempts by German and Swiss specialists to capture it.

The long-beaked bird was finally lured into a cage where a new, smaller and more powerful transmitter was attached.

Max, who despite the name is female, has become the most celebrated bird in Switzerland.

The Fribourg natural history museum, which has a section of its website devoted to the famous bird, explains that it is difficult to know the sex of a stork when it is young.

It was named after ornithologist Max Bloesch (1908-1997), who is credited with reintroducing white storks to Altreu, in the canton of Solothurn, from Alsace, France and Eastern Europe.

Max’s mother was captured after becoming injured and was nurtured back to health at a station for wildlife care run by the Fribourg museum.

The tagged mother was subsequently released and gave birth to her heralded offspring.

Never has a bird been followed for such a long time, according to Swiss news reports.

Every September, Max flies south for overwintering in locations warmer than western Europe.

The stork passed its first eight winters in Morocco before switching to Spain in 2007.

Given the average lifespan of a white stork — 20 years — Max is likely to be followed for a few more years yet.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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