The white stork (Ciconia cicconia), or beli štrk in Slovene, is Prekmurje’s most beloved symbol. Country people consider it a sign of luck and honour for a pair to nest on their rooftop. The storks arrive in spring and spend the warm summer months here. Come mid-August, they migrate south on a 12,000km trek to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter, returning in the spring.
Storks build their nests on church steeples, rooftops or telephone poles. The nest is repaired every year and can weigh as much as 500kg. The birds live on a diet of worms, grasshoppers, frogs and small rodents. If food is scarce, however, it is not unknown for parents to turf their fledglings out of the nest.
Slovenia's stork population (around 350 breeding pairs) has grown over the past two decades. Nevertheless, the white stork remains a vulnerable species, primarily because its hunting and breeding grounds – the meadows – are being destroyed, dried out and regulated.