110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Nature Scenes: European white storks reuse their nests
By Lynn Bowen
posted Jun 23, 2014 - 11:03:38am
According to some myths, the European white stork brings babies to parents, and if one of these storks nests on a home, the family inside will experience fertility and prosperity. These myths offer comforting thoughts full of hope and cheer. Those are some of the tales that many folks tell children who are too young to understand the real answers!
In fact, when I was at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm standing in front of two marabou storks that were close but on the other side of a Plexiglas wall, I heard a mother tell her little boy, who looked to be about 2 years old, that the stork brought him into the world.
The little boy had not asked any questions; the mom just told her child the myth. He looked very puzzled, and did not reply. I think he was smart enough to know it couldn’t be true! The myth isn’t about African marabou storks anyway! This mom was really stretching the story!
The European white stork’s habitat includes wetlands, savannas, meadows and fields in Europe, the Middle East, west-central Asia, and northern Africa. These storks are protected in northern Europe, but not in other areas, so, unfortunately, many are killed by hunters. Thankfully, these graceful birds are not a threatened species; their population is 160,000! Other than in zoos, none live in North America. They migrate to Africa in the winter, giving hunters many opportunities.
The European white stork is mainly white, with black-tipped wings, and has a long neck and a long pointed red beak. This wading bird also has long red legs. It measures from 39 to 45 inches from its beak to the end of its tail, and has a 5-foot wingspan. The males are larger than the females, and the weight varies from 5 to 10 pounds.
Using its beak as a spear, the beautiful European white stork eats insects, fish, rodents, small birds, frogs, lizards, and anything else it desires.
The stork parents build a large stick nest up to 7 feet across in tall trees or on rooftops, and they use it for many years. In fact, the male annually comes back to the nest a few days before the female to make repairs!
Both parents incubate their three to five eggs for 33 days. When the chicks hatch, both parents feed them for about two months. They can live up to 30 years.
Not only do the real storks add to nature’s beauty; the myths surrounding them are charming too.
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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