White storks fly south from their summer breeding grounds in Europe in August and September, heading for Africa.
To avoid a long sea crossing over the Mediterranean, birds from central Europe either follow an eastern migration route by crossing the Bosphorus to Turkey, traversing the Levant, then bypassing the Sahara Desert by following the Nile valley southwards, or follow a western route over the Strait of Gibraltar.
These migration corridors maximise help from the thermals and thus save energy.
Juvenile white storks set off on their first southward migration in an inherited direction but, if displaced from that bearing by weather conditions, they are unable to compensate, and may end up in a new wintering location. Adults can compensate for strong winds and adjust their direction to finish at their normal winter sites, because they are familiar with the location. For the same reason, all spring migrants, even those from displaced wintering locations, can find their way back to the traditional breeding sites.