Storks weathering a late cold snap over Bulgaria during a spring migration are finding unexpected refuge in the homes, garages, and other warm spaces of compassionate residents.
"I found five frozen storks near the village road the day before yesterday," Safet Halil, 53, from the village of Zaritsa, told the AFP. "I took them home, lit a stove to warm them and fed them fish."
As word spread of Halil's act of kindness, people in villages and towns across Bulgaria began following suit, rescuing birds that appeared distressed or had frozen wings from nighttime temps that crashed below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to one estimate, more than 40 birds found shelter in local homes. Some, like in this Facebook video posted by Sevgin Ridvan, were even given a bed to rest on.
Hristina Klisurova, a veterinarian at the Green Balkans wildlife rehabilitation centre, told the AFP that the amount of storks they're seeing in distress is remarkable. Nonetheless, they're urging residents to only assist those birds that appear hurt or with frozen wings, and to quickly release them back into the wild after the cold has passed.
As shown in this video, Klisurova's team has been busy traveling throughout northeast Bulgaria over the last several days treating injured storks, assisting residents offering temporary housing for the birds, or just throwing frozen fish to those grounded in fields.
According to forecasters, Bulgaria's cold snap is expected to continue into the weekend and then quickly give way to more seasonable and stork-friendly temperatures next week. As for Safet, he says his feathered guests are already showing encouraging signs of returning to their usual selves.
"I already received two or three beak pinches on the arms," he said smiling.