European Stork Village Rühstädt

The clattering of more than thirty pairs of storks accompanies visitors of the idyllic little village Rühstädt. You quickly realize that the big bird plays a special role here: Not only are the visitors' centre and the local stork club dedicated to Meister Adebar but the entire place is as well.

Foto: Archiv Tourismusverband Prignitz e.V.

It is thanks to the citizens of Rühstädt that the village gets so many storks each year: since the 1950s they make sure that the birds feel comfortable here. Regular checks of the nesting aids, the banding of young storks, and the annual stork festival are only a few highlights of the (stork) year.

Due to its above average number of storks, Rühstädt was named European Stork Village by the foundation Euronatur in 1996. Rühstädt and 14 other stork villages all across the globe are part of the initiative “European Stork Villages” which focuses on the preservation of the stork population and the improvement of their habitats.

Foto: Archiv Tourismusverband Prignitz e.V.

Other cultural and historical highlights in Rühstädt are the church, the water reservoir tower, the palace and its adjoining park with the ice cellar hill. A walk through the streets with lovingly restored half-timbered houses and colourful flower boxes reveals information boards of the village's history which comes alive with old photos and exciting stories of the past.

Experience storks up close from April until September

The about 250 citizens, most notably the members of the stork club, of Rühstädt take care of and watch more than thirty pairs of storks

Foto: R. Baadke

The little village Rühstädt near the Elbe is all about the stork. No wonder given that these impressive animals take up their quarters here amid the biosphere reserve Flusslandschaft Elbe-Brandenburg from April until August. This record is unique in Europe and earned this place the title “European Stork Village”. Before the birds' arrival in spring, the nests are cleaned up and secured. Some roofs even hold several nests.

Most storks return from their Western quarters at the start of April and start breeding right away. Whoever pays a visit to the village starting mid-May, can witness a very special spectatcle. The parents return to their nests after searching for food for their youngs to feed them. This scene is accompanied by loud clattering that echoes through the otherwise and usually quiet village. Boards with the names and breeding statistics are placed under each nest. In August, both young and old storks prepare for their departure South. During this time especially many storks can be seen in the Elbe wetlands.

Guided, stork themed tours

The village and its storks can not only be explored on your own, but also with expert guidance.

  • Wednesdays at 2 p.m.: “round tour through the stork lands” (“Rundgang durchs Storchenland”) by the NABU visitors' centre Rühstädt (adults: 5,50 €; children from six upwards: 2 €; families: 10 €)
  • Fridays at 2 p.m.: guided stork theme tour with the rangers of the Naturwacht Rühstädt (donations are welcome)

Discover the storks by bike

Foto: Michael Richter

Treffpunkt Adebar

Loud clattering accompanies travellers on this tour through the biosphere reserve Flusslandschaft Elbe-Brandenburg. The Prignitz belongs to one of the regions with the highest stork population after all. On the wet plains along the Elbe the storks find plenty of food. As they majesticly sail through the air, the birds point you to the observation spots by the Elbe and at the mouth of the Havel between the villages Abbendorf aand Gnevsdorf. People have their noses far up in the air in Rühstädt—watching storks in about thirty nests.

NABU visitors' centre Rühstädt

After a thorough stroll through Rühstädt you don't get around visiting the stork exhibition at the visitors' centre. Everything you need to know about “globetrotter Adebar”, its relatives from all over the world, its favourite food, and information about its migration you can learn here. A special highlight is the camera on the roof of the building looking directly into the nest of one of the stork pairs. Don't be said if they're not at home while you're watching—you still can watch little sequences on film about the lives of storks and learn a lot about their nesting behaviour. Additionally, NABU offers guided tours for families, groups, or single persons, both on foot and by bike.