March 30, 2024 – Thirteen years ago, a poor fisherman in a small village was retrieving his net from a lake when he heard a noise behind him and turned to find a majestic being standing on the bow of his rowboat. So began an unlikely tale of man and bird that has captivated people as the passing years — and a deft social media campaign by a local nature photographer — have spread the pair’s story as a modern-day fable of cross-species friendship.

Gleaming white feathers covered its head, neck and chest, yielding to black plumes on its wings. It stood atop skinny orange legs that nearly matched the color of its long, pointy beak.

The fisherman, Adem Yilmaz, recognized it as one of the white storks that had long summered in the village, he recalled, but he had never seen one so close, much less hosted one on his boat.

Wondering if it was hungry, he tossed it a fish, which the bird devoured. He tossed another. And another.