True Love Story: Male Stork Flies To The Same Rooftop Every Year For 14 Years To Be Reunited With Its Handicapped Partner

True Love Story: Male Stork Flies To The Same Rooftop Every Year For 14 Years To Be Reunited With Its Handicapped Partner

This male stork flies to the same rooftop in Croatia for 14 years to be reunited with its crippled partner who cannot migrate after it was shot by a hunter. 

Storks in Marrakech

Photo by Stuart Pinfold

The male has melted hearts in Croatia by flying to the same rooftop every year. The faithful bird, named Klepetan, has returned once again to the village of Slavonski Brod in east Croatia after about 5,000 mile migration. 

Klepetan spends his winters alone in South Africa because his disabled partner Malena can’t fly properly after being shot by a hunter in 1993.  Every year the pair brings up chicks and Klepetan teaches them how to fly to be ready for the trip to south in summer.  Klepetan spends his winters alone in South Africa and makes this long journey home every year, for the 14th year in a row now. 

His love, Malena had been found lying by the side of the road by school teacher Stjepan Vokic, who fixed Malena’s wing and kept her in his home for a few years before helping this bird to build a nest on his roof. After placing Malena there, Klepetan spotted her 14 years ago. And now every year these lovers are reunited in the spring. Stjepan Vokic, whose roof the couple nest on, has taken care of her since she was first injured by hunters and says that Malena, like Klepetan, is now a part of the family.

During the winter, Stjepan keeps Malena inside the house, and then lets her go to the roof each spring where she patiently waits for Klepetan. Her partner keeps a very strict timetable, usually arriving back at the same time on the same day in March to be welcomed by local people.  But this year he was running 6 days late, causing panic among local people and fans of the stork couple. These birds are so popular that there is even a live feed on the main square in the capital Zagreb showing this cute love birds.

There was a huge excitement when stork-watchers saw Klepetan flying over the nest, and then landing.  But the new arrival turned out to be another stork that was attempting to woo her. Malena quickly attacked him and drove him off and continued to wait for her only love, Klepetan. She can make very short flights, but Malena’s wing has not healed well enough for her to make the trip to Africa, or even to properly feed herself.

White stork - in flyPhoto by Adam Zdebel

The oldest recorded living stork was 39. Locals are hopeful the couple’s long relationship will continue for years to come.