Swiss church turns off bells because of nesting storks

The bells of a church in northern Switzerland have been switched off indefinitely so as not to disturb a pair of mating storks.

Swiss church turns off bells because of nesting storks
Storks are regular summer visitors to Switzerland. File photo: Bernd Settnik / dpa / AFP

The birds recently took up residence in a custom-built nest on the top of the Swiss reformed church in the town of Aesch in the canton of Basel-Landschaft.

The arrival of the birds is good news for the community. The stork nest was built in 2013 for 18,000 Swiss francs (€15,600), with most of the money coming from donations.

Read also: Bern politician wants to silence church bells at night

The pricey nest features a special door that allows direct access from the interior of the church tower to the nest itself. This makes tasks such as bird banding much easier.

However, despite the costs, the nest has basically stood empty for five years.

In 2016, the church decided to turn off its church bells during the during the February–March stork breeding period – a move that now appears to have paid off with the new arrivals.

The church bells will now remain silent indefinitely so that the birds are not disturbed.

Bruno Gardelli of the organization Stork Switzerland welcomed the decision to turn off the bells. But he also told Swiss news site 20 Minuten that the birds did not appear to be particularly sensitive to noise.

Storks are regular summer visitors to Switzerland. They return to the country in early spring after wintering in southern Europe and northern Africa.

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German-Swiss deal on Zurich airport noise

Switzerland and Germany on Saturday paved the way for an agreement on a long-standing dispute over flight noise from Zurich airport.

German-Swiss deal on Zurich airport noise
Roger Price/

Germany imposed restrictions on some flights to the Swiss hub close to its border in 2003 after complaints from locals, clouding relations with its neighbour.

Bern will reduce its air traffic, Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard told a conference on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Leuthard and her German counterpart Peter Ramsauer signed a declaration of intention which will be formalised in an accord by the summer.

“Switzerland will reduce its traffic but we do not yet have the exact figures,” ATS news agency quoted Leuthard saying.

Since Germany restricted flights over its territory planes have been forced to fly over highly populated areas south and east of Zurich.

Berlin acted after the Swiss refused to ratify an accord on the number of planes landing and taking off from the airport, whose flight path is about 20 kilometres from the German border.

In 2010 Switzerland took the row to the European Court of Justice, which ruled that the German measures were proportionate.