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Special Delivery From a Wood Stork

Posted by Wild Florida on September 12,2014 12:05:PM

At Wild Florida, one of our favorite animals to see on a Florida air boat ride is the wood stork. These tall wading birds are easy to spot with their white feathers, long beaks, and distinctive bald heads, and their populations are returning to healthy levels in the Everglades. However, when we discuss storks, many people call to mind the birds known for delivering little bundles of joy to expectant mothers and fathers--right? How did this mythology come to be?

The association of storks with babies and families is nothing new. Our first account that links storks and babies comes to us from Greek mythology; the goddess Hera turned a rival into a stork, who then attempted to steal her child as retribution. Around the same time period, we have the Egyptian mythology that the human spirit takes on the form of a stork, returning to the earth for reincarnation. Finally, in Norse and other mythologies, the stork symbolized family values and fidelity, since they were often believed to mate for life. Storks do not actually mate for life, but they usually return to the same nests with the same partner each year for mating season.

Our modern interpretation of storks delivering babies dates back a few hundred years to a German fable, which stems from an observation of the stork’s migratory habits. These graceful birds, like many others, would fly south at the beginning of fall and return in April or May. During the Summer Solstice, which falls on June 21, many early cultures celebrated marriage and fertility, and many children were conceived during the summer. Nine months later--usually around April or May--the children would be born at the same time as the storks returned. This unique occurrence gave way to the notion that the storks dropped the babies off to expectant couples.

This story became popular after Hans Christian Andersen wrote the short story, “The Storks,” in the 19th century. Many parents who were hopeful for a child would leave sweets in their windows to attract storks and inform the birds of their desires. Children would throw “adeborsteines,” or stork stones, over their shoulders if they wanted a sibling. The myth has continued on to modern times, delighting children and saving parents from having to answer awkward questions.

Though we wouldn’t recommend leaving sweets out for the wood storks you see during your Florida air boat ride, you can wish them a safe journey as they depart to answer a happy couple’s wishes! For more fun articles about the animals you’ll see at Wild Florida, feel free to browse through our blog, and call us at (866) 759-4244 today to book your adventure! Share this article with your friends and see how many of them knew the history of storks with children.