Storks are marvellous fellows, dignified huge buggers like a Sergeant Major… if a Sergeant Major was covered in feathers had a big bugger off nest, big bloody beak and never made a noise.

"    "

These chaps are famed for their huge nests which they return to each year and build upon every time they return. They lack a Syrinx (Greek for pan pipes) which is the thingumajig that allows a bird to sing and so are one of the few mute birds. What’s more there are a number of these mutes, the largest being the Marabou Stork… also known as the Undertaker Bird. A big sod he is too, in fact he shares the title of biggest wingspan of any bird with the mighty Andean Condor, ten and half foot across… twice the height of an Italian.

The Marabou Stork never could get the hang of lighting its pipe from the fire

The Marabou Stork never could get the hang of lighting its pipe from the fire

Looking at the Marabou Stork it is easy to see the similarities between the Vultures and the Stork, indeed recent DNA sampling has pointed to a common ancestor. Appearances can be misleading though… like that Bangkok filly I was telling you about… non more so than in the case of the Shoebill, who was thought of as a Stork for many years. Sadly he isn’t, he is rather a weird looking fellow though, so I thought it inoffensive to have a quick aside.



Back to the Stork, of course the magnificent fellow is often associated as the bringer of babies. Fear not I’m not about to go on one of my famed rants about debauchery and ravishing. You see, the Stork is thought of in this manner as it appeared in Europe out of nowhere each year. There they would mate, have a young whippersnapper, act like a delightful couple, become quite the talk of town, and love the little one ever so… and promptly bugger off again. So the Stork became synonymous with the arrival of good fortune. Later stuffy Victorians would use the bird as a foil to explain where babies come from when young Timmy asked. Unfortunately Timmy was a rather dull child and would years later become embroiled in a rather embarassing dinner party conversation about how a small bird would often fend off these baby-bearing Stork… something about Swallows.

then she should stop being such a strumpet

then she should stop being such a strumpet

It was this rather remarkable habit of the European Stork disappearing each Winter that flummoxed early naturalists. Until this rather unfortunate chap arrived in Germany in 1822.

he'll feel that in the morning

he'll feel that in the morning

Known as a Pfeilstorch, or Arrow Stork in more a civilised tongue, it had arrived with an arrow in its neck, what is more that arrow was of African origin, and so learned types surmised that birds travel great distances with the seasons… in a word they migrate. Previous ideas about their sudden disappearance over Winter included that they turned into mice, or that they all went for a nap at the bottom of the Sea.

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 11:26 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh man, that is an awesome postcard! Great entry; I love all the bird stuff especially. 🙂

  2. Where on earth do you get those magnificent pictures from? I love them all, but my favourite is the Shoebill. I once dared creating a silk painting of a Shoebill the template taken from a calendar sheet and henceforth fell in love with these fellas. But your picture shows a particularly nice specimen. Never saw one live, though…

  3. Adore the postcard of stork & baby in pursuit…. if only contraception were quite so straightforward as beating a bird on the beak with a brolly!

  4. Hmmm not sure I’d be in the mood after having to beat an enormous bird to death!

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