About a half-mile from the Russian border, hidden in the rolling hills of northernmost Poland, is the tiny village of Zywkowo, population 25 humans and 43 pairs of nesting white storks. It is one of the country’s largest stork breeding colonies — their massive, tousled nests dot chimneys, rooftops and specially made platforms. They are wedged into tree branches and balanced above electrical wires.
As the human population has dwindled to 21 adults and four children, the locals have tied their future to the storks, which migrate every year from southern Africa to breed in the village, drawn by a wealth of pasture, farmlands and wetlands.
One man, in particular, has led the way.