Stork racing club migrates to DHS

Students form quirky club that tracks stork migrations


Creative Commons

White storks live in wetland areas. During the spring, they migrate to breeding grounds where the males decorate nests for the females.

Kheyal Roy-Meighoo

You are probably familiar with high school clubs: debate, Latin, model United Nations, and … stork racing?

Sophomore Lucas Meyer-Lee started the stork racing club after his friend showed him a shark-tracking app.  He thought it would be “interesting” to race the sharks and see who picked the fastest shark, but then realized it was too difficult to pick a finish line.  He then learned stork migration would take place in spring.  

Sophomore Lucas Meyer-Lee founded the stork racing club. One of his birds, Zozu, arrived in second, but had some tough competition. His stork and another’s arrived at the exact same time. “We hadn’t expected any birds to cross so closely together– it was almost as if they were in the same flock. [I] pull[ed] arguments out of thin air for why my bird had truly crossed first … In the end, we said it was a tie.”
White storks live in Europe, and like most other birds they migrate during different seasons.  The app, “Animal Tracker,” has placed trackers on actual storks and presents their locations regularly.  The club participants check the app to see who’s stork has crossed the German border.

Although they are not officially a club, Meyer-Lee hopes to find a sponsor for next year.

There are 12 members of the club (with one team of two), and 22 total storks.  Five have crossed the German border.  Information and statistics about age, speed and previous departure times are used by members when selecting a stork.  His stork Zozu is in 2nd place, and his other stork has not arrived.

Gillian McClennen was recruited by Meyer-Lee to join the club. Currently, her storks Enaitsirhc and Schweizerreid have not begun migrating.

“My storks are freaking slow!” she said.

To McClennen, the club is “just a funny thing where you get to spend time with some cool people.”  

Nicholas Goldfarb is another avid stork racer.  

“It’s basically just a bunch of friends doing something together as an excuse not to do homework,” he said.

His stork, Niclas, is in fifth place while his other stork Mirabel has not yet started to migrate.  Goldfarb isn’t so happy with his current score, because Niclas suddenly stopped migrating right before reaching the border.  

“[Niclas] made it all the way to Switzerland by late February and was about to finish in second place,” he said.  “Then he just stopped less than 100 miles from the German border… I had second in the bag, but my bird just decided to stop.”

J.R. Erskine was more fortunate with his birds.  He was “lucky enough to get first pick,” and his bird Pius finished in first place.  His second bird, Adi, is still migrating.  

“The goal of the club is just to have fun,” Erskine said.

Meyer-Lee is not sure what the physical reward will be, but he knows the members will take away a great experience and will even learn a bit of migratory science.  He hopes the club will be an “inspiration to start more new, quirky community activities.”