Like many of you, I grew up with stories about the Klapperstorch, which is what the White Stork is called in German. The German name, which translates as “clattering stork”, refers to the characteristic noise the bird makes with its beak during the mating season.
Now here’s an interesting factoid for you: storks are mute. The clattering sound is the only type of noise they can produce, as they don’t have a syrinx (voice box), which is what ‘normal’ birds use to trill and chirp you out of bed in the morning when you could really do with another couple of hours of shuteye. So, no annoying squawking, crowing or screeching out those stilt-legged creatures, which only adds to their serene mystique.
Apart from the beak rattling habit, storks are famous for their brightly coloured red legs, for blocking up chimneys with their armchair-sized nests, and, of course, for delivering babies. My friend Maria told me that in Spain, storks don’t just pick them up from any old place, oh no, they fly them in fresh from Paris. So, all Spaniards are, in fact, French. I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.
Although I’d heard a lot about storks, I’d never actually seen one in the flesh until I got to Spain. We have some in Toledo, but they are hard to find, you’ve got know where to look. Not so in Alcalá de Henares, the town Maria and I visited earlier this week. Those winged giants are everywhere, perched on rooftops, church spires, arches, trees… Alcalá is famous for harbouring more storks than any other Spanish town, owing to its conservation work which has greatly increased the number of breeding pairs.
If any of you have any stork-related lore to tell, maybe something that’s particular to your culture/country, I’d sure love to hear it 🙂