Birds of the Bible – Yellow-billed Storks at Zoo Tampa

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) ZTLP by Lee 032718

“And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.” (Deuteronomy 14:18 KJV)

We were at Lowry Park Zoo, now called Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park, and saw the Yellow-billed Storks in the Sulawesi aviary. This was the first time we have seen them in there. It gave a great opportunity to watch them up-close. Really, up-close! It was great!

Storks are mentioned in the Bible in five verses in the KJV. Leviticus 11:19, Deuteronomy 14:18, Psalm 104:18, Jeremiah 8:7, and Zechariah 5:9. The first two verses have to do with the “Do Not Eat” list, the next two with nesting and migration, and the last with a prophecy.

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) ZTLP by Lee 032718

The Yellow-billed stork (Mycteria ibis), sometimes also called the wood stork or wood ibis, is a large African wading stork species in the family Ciconiidae. It is widespread in regions south of the Sahara and also occurs in Madagascar.

The yellow-billed stork is closely related to 3 other species in the Mycteria genus: the American woodstork (Mycteria americana), the milky stork (Mycteria cinerea) and the painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala). It is classified as belonging to one clade with these 3 other species because they all display remarkable homologies in behavior and morphology. In one analytical study of feeding and courtship behaviours of the wood-stork family, M.P. Kahl attributed the same general ethology to all members of the Mycteria genus, with few species-specific variations. [Probably only one of that genus was onboard the Ark] These four species are collectively referred to as the wood-storks, which should not be confused with one alternative common name (wood-stork) for the yellow-billed stork.

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) ZTLP by Lee

Before it was established that the yellow-billed stork was closely related to the American woodstork, the former was classified as belonging to the genus Ibis, together with the milky stork and painted stork. However, the yellow-billed stork has actually long been recognised as a true stork and along with the other 3 related stork species, it should not strictly be called an ibis.

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) ZTLP by Lee 032718

It is a medium-sized stork standing 90–105 cm (35–41 in) tall. The body is white with a short black tail that is glossed green and purple when freshly moulted. The bill is deep yellow, slightly decurved at the end and has a rounder cross-section than in other stork species outside the Mycteria. Feathers extend onto the head and neck just behind the eyes, with the face and forehead being covered by deep red skin. Both sexes are similar in appearance, but the male is larger and has a slightly longer heavier bill. Males and females weigh approximately 2.3 kg (5.1 lb) and 1.9 kg (4.2 lb) respectively.

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) ZTLP by Lee

Colouration becomes more vivid during the breeding season. In the breeding season, the plumage is coloured pink on the upperwings and back; the ordinarily brown legs also turn bright pink; the bill becomes a deeper yellow and the face becomes a deeper red.

Their diet comprises mainly small, freshwater fish of about 60-100mm length and maximally 150g, which they swallow whole. They also feed on crustaceans, worms, aquatic insects, frogs and occasionally small mammals and birds.

This species appears to rely mainly on sense of touch to detect and capture prey, rather than by vision. They feed patiently by walking through the water with partially open bills and probe the water for prey. Contact of the bill with a prey item is followed by a rapid snap-bill reflex, whereby the bird snaps shut its mandibles, raises its head and swallows the prey whole.[3] The speed of this reflex in the closely related American woodstork (Mycteria americana) has been recorded as 25 milliseconds[15] and although the corresponding reflex in the yellow-billed stork has not been quantitatively measured, the yellow-billed stork’s feeding mechanism appears to be at least qualitatively identical to that of the American woodstork.

Wood Stork at Gatorland Walking Past Me

In addition to the snap-bill reflex, the yellow-billed stork also uses a systematic foot stirring technique to sound out evasive prey. It prods and churns up the bottom of the water as part of a “herding mechanism” to force prey out of the bottom vegetation and into the bird’s bill. The bird does this several times with one foot before bringing it forwards and repeating with the other foot. Although they are normally active predators, they have also been observed to scavenge fish regurgitated by cormorants.

[Information from Wikipedia with editing]

Timmy and the Stork

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Sunday Inspiration – Storks

Wood Storks on top of tree at Circle B -7-22-11 by Lee

Wood Storks on top of tree at Circle B by Lee

“Where the birds make their nests; The stork has her home in the fir trees.” (Psalms 104:17 NKJV)

Wow! While searching through the index of this blog, I realized that the “Sunday Inspiration” was started in January of 2014. I had no idea it has been that long ago. Also, I realized that we are just about back to where it began.  Over the last three and a half years, you have been exposed to almost every family of birds in the world. They were randomly produced, then the Taxonomic order was begun with the Passerines, Singing and Perching Birds. It was finished up and then we started through taxonomically several months ago. Do you have any idea of the numbers of avian wonders that you have have been exposed to? Neither do I. :)

Currently, there are 10,681 species named with I.O.C., plus all the subspecies. I trust as you have seen their photos and listened to Christian music in the background, that it has been more pleasant than looking through guide books. :)

All of this has been said to let you know that if the “Sunday Inspiration” starts skipping over certain families, then it was already covered. The links to the skipped over ones will be listed. Most of you, like me, probably had no idea of what order the birds are listed in. We have all been learning as we have produced these Inspirations in order.

Marabou Stork LP Zoo by Lee

Storks are members of the Ciconiidae family and the only family in the Ciconiiformes Order. Storks are large to very large waterbirds. They range in size from the marabou, which stands 152 cm (60 in) tall and can weigh 8.9 kg (20 lb) the Abdim’s stork, which is only 75 cm (30 in) high and only weighs 1.3 kg (2.9 lb). Their shape is superficially similar to the herons, with long legs and necks, but they are heavier-set. There is some sexual dimorphism (differences between males and females) in size, with males being up to 15% bigger than females in some species (for example the saddle-billed stork), but almost no difference in appearance. The only difference is in the colour of the iris of the two species in the genus Ephippiorhynchus.

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) by Ian

The bills of the storks are large to very large, and vary considerably between the genera. The shape of the bills is linked to the diet of the different species. The large bills of the Ciconia storks are the least specialised. Larger are the massive and slightly upturned bills of the Ephippiorhynchus and the jabiru. These have evolved to hunt for fish in shallow water. Larger still are the massive daggers of the two adjutants and marabou (Leptoptilos), which are used to feed on carrion and in defence against other scavengers, as well as for taking other prey. The long, ibis-like downcurved bills of the Mycteria storks have sensitive tips that allow them to detect prey by touch (tactilocation) where cloudy conditions would not allow them to see it. The most specialised bills of any storks are those of the two openbills (Anastomus.), which as their name suggested is open in the middle when their bill is closed.

Saddlebill Stork at Lowry Park Zoo by Lee

“Even the stork in the heavens Knows her appointed times; And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow Observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:7 NKJV)

The storks vary in their tendency towards migration. Temperate species like the white stork, black stork and Oriental stork undertake long annual migrations in the winter. The routes taken by these species have developed to avoid long distance travel across water, and from Europe, this usually means flying across the Straits of Gibraltar or east across the Bosphorus and through Israel and the Sinai. Studies of young birds denied the chance to travel with others of their species have shown that these routes are at least partially learnt, rather than being innate as they are in passerine migrants. Migrating black storks are split between those that make stopovers on the migration between Europe and their wintering grounds in Africa, and those that don’t.

Abdim's Stork (Ciconia abdimii) ©©MichelleBartsch

Abdim’s Stork (Ciconia abdimii) ©©MichelleBartsch

The Abdim’s stork is another migrant, albeit one that migrates within the tropics. It breeds in northern Africa, from Senegal to the Red Sea, during the wet season, and then migrates to Southern Africa. Many species that aren’t regular migrants will still make smaller movements if circumstances require it; others may migrate over part of their range. This can also include regular commutes from nesting sites to feeding areas. Wood storks have been observed feeding 130 km (81 mi) from their colony. [Information from Wikipedia, with editing.]

The birds in Taxonomic order are listed here: IOC World Bird List

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“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 KJV)


“Amazing Grace” and “I Love You” – Orchestra and Choir combined”.
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More Sunday Inspirations
Birds of the Bible – Storks
Wordless Birds

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Wood Storks at Gatorland

Lee with Wood Stork at Gatorland by Dan

Lee with Wood Stork at Gatorland by Dan

Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. (Psalms 104:17 KJV)

As you can see, these birds at Gatorland can get quite personal. I had been photographing this Wood Stork when Dan took my picture. My hand was about a foot from his beak. On the rail behind us there is a Great Egret and a Snowy.

Lee with Wood Stork at Gatorland by Dan

Lee with Wood Stork at Gatorland by Dan

Thought maybe you might like to see what photos I had been taking of that Wood Stork. They were really close-up needless to say. I have been known to be closer. (Me Feeding a Stork)

Wood Stork Close-up by Lee

Wood Stork Close-up by Lee

How about a little closer – zoomed in:

Wood Stork Face Close-up by Lee

Wood Stork Face Close-up by Lee

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Wood Stork Close-up by Lee

Wood Stork Neck Close-up by Lee

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Wood Stork Close-up by Lee

Wood Stork Beak Close-up by Lee

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What always amazed about the Wood Storks is that to me they are “ugly”, but when they fly, they are so graceful. Isn’t that the way with us. The Lord made us all, birds and humans, but when we look at someone, there is always somethig that we can find to compliment them on.

Wood Storks belong to the Ciconiidae – Storks Family.

This photo was just caught as one flew over, not in focus, but you can see their beauty.

Wood Stork overhead at Gatorland

Wood Stork overhead at Gatorland

Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 KJV)

Below are the photos taken of the Wood Storks around Gatorland. The ones in the distant were zoomed in from across the pond (see that photo). Later, we walked around on the other side of the pond and got them closer.

(Disclaimer, I am not a photographer, but a birdwatcher. So, don’t expect super shots, but just trying to show different parts of the Wood Storks.)

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Birds of the Bible – Wood Storks

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) by Lee

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) by Lee

While we were on the same birdwatching trip to Circle B (American Bittern), we encountered a Wood Stork. There are five verses in the Bible that mention the Stork:

And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 KJV)

And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 KJV)

Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. (Psalms 104:17 KJV)

Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 KJV)

Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. (Zechariah 5:9 KJV)

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) by Lee Landing

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) by Lee Landing

While we were birdwatching at Circle B just before Christmas, a Wood Stork flew over and landed in a tree a good way from us. Thanks to the zoom on my camera, I was able to capture its picture. They amaze me that they are “ugly” up close, but when they fly, they are so beautiful and graceful to watch. We see them quite often here and I have been known to feed them at Lake Morton. They also fly over our house and land in our community pond.

Lee feeding Wood Stork at Lake Morton by Dan

Lee feeding Wood Stork at Lake Morton by Dan 2011

As mentioned above, Storks are birds in the Bible and are members of the Ciconiidae – Storks Family. Currently there are 19 Storks in this family. The Bible does not tell which one is being mentioned, but most like one of the Storks that lived in Israel.

Our Wood Stork here is a broad-winged soaring bird that flies with its neck outstretched and legs extended. It forages usually where lowering water levels concentrate fish in open wetlands; it also frequents paddy fields. Walking slowly and steadily in shallow water up to its belly, it seeks prey, which, like that of most of its relatives, consists of fish, frogs and large insects. It catches fish by holding its bill open in the water until a fish is detected. (Wikipedia)

“Tall and long-legged, the wood stork is the largest wading bird native to America. It is white with black flight feathers, distinctive because of its dark, featherless head (down to the upper neck) and thick, down-curved bill. Wood storks fly with neck and legs extended, interrupting strong wing beats with brief glides; their wingspan is 5 1/2 feet.” (FL FWCC) Their length is 33.5–45.3 in (85–115 cm) and weigh between72.3 to 93.1 oz (2050–2640 g). (NatGeo)

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Birds of the Bible – Stork III

Wood Stork by Dan at Lake Morton Jan 2011

Wood Stork by Dan at Lake Morton Jan 2011

Dan and I were out birdwatching this last week several times. We have the privilege of seeing the Wood Storks quite frequently. The Birds of the Bible – Stork and the  Birds of the Bible – Stork II articles have covered different aspects of the Stork. This time, the Bible passage in Job 39:13 is going to be covered.

The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, But are her wings and pinions like the kindly stork’s? (Job 39:13 NKJV)

The idea of the verse is that the Ostrich waves or flaps her wings proudly, but she lacks several things that the Stork has like the feathers and wings of a stork and nor the care for her young as the Stork show its young.

God has created them both, but they do not behave the same. Each has it’s own design and place to fill.

Lee feeding Wood Stork at Lake Morton by Dan Jan 2011

Lee feeding Wood Stork at Lake Morton by Dan Jan 2011

What is interesting is the different translations of Job 39:13. I use the e-Sword Bible program and have loaded every one of the free (English) Bibles and also have the New American Standard Bible and New King James Versions installed, which we purchased. One of the neat things you can do is select a verse and then choose “Compare” and every one of the Bible versions of that verse shows. It never ceases to amaze me that the versions can vary some times so much. This is one of those verses. (If you haven’t tried out the e-Sword Bible, it is worth loading and using and it is free for most of it. They also have the Bible in different languages.)

For now, I am going to show some of the versions that show the Stork:

(Brenton)  The peacock has a beautiful wing: if the stork and the ostrich conceive, it is worthy of notice,
(Darby)  The wing of the ostrich beats joyously–But is it the stork’s pinion and plumage?
(ERV) “An ostrich gets excited and flaps its wings, but it cannot fly. Its wings and feathers are not like the wings of a stork.
(GNB) How fast the wings of an ostrich beat! But no ostrich can fly like a stork.
(JPS) The wing of the ostrich beateth joyously; but are her pinions and feathers the kindly stork’s?
(LITV) The wing of the ostriches flap joyously, though not like the stork’s pinions for flight.
(MKJV) The wing of the ostrich beats joyously; though not like the stork’s pinions for flight.
(NKJV) “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, But are her wings and pinions like the kindly stork’s?

Storks Shadowing Baby in Lakeland by Dan

Some of the other versions either mention a hawk, heron, or just the pinion and plumage of love. Ostriches are known for abandoning their young (Job 39:13-18 Birds of the Bible – Ostrich I) and the Storks are protective of their young (Stork II). The Ostriches don’t fly particularly, but the Storks have great wings and migrate good distances (Stork II).

Here are some facts about the Storks wings from various books and internet sites:

“Stork’s wings are built in a way, which allows them to take advantage of the streams of upward moving air. They are long and, compared to other birds, very wide – similar to these of vultures, condors, pelicans and the closest relatives of storks. Large wings of a stork “catch” the up going streams of air. Storks travel like gliders, taking advantage of the air movement.”

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) by Nikhil Devasar

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) by Nikhil Devasar

“Storks tend to use soaring, gliding flight, which conserves energy. Soaring requires thermal air currents. Ottomar Anschütz’s famous 1884 album of photographs of storks inspired the design of Otto Lilienthal’s experimental Gliders of the late 19th century. Storks are heavy, with wide wingspans: the Marabou Stork, with a wingspan of 3.2 m (10.5 ft), joins the Andean Condor in having the widest wingspan of all living land birds.” (Wikipedia)

“White Storks rely on the uplift of air thermals for long distance flight, taking great advantage of them during annual migrations between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. The shortest route south would take them over the Mediterranean, but since thermals only form over land, storks take a detour and avoid long water crossings. It has been estimated that storks metabolize the same amount of body fat to travel a distance in flapping flight as 23 times further by soaring, so they usually avoid prolonged wing flapping flight. Long flights over water may occasionally be undertaken. ”

To facilitate the sea crossing, birds from central Europe can take an eastern migration corridor, crossing the straits of Bosphorus to Turkey, traversing the Levant, and then bypassing the Sahara Desert by following the Nile, or follow a western route over the straits of Gibraltar. These corridors maximize the help from the thermals and thus save energy. The eastern route is by far the more important, with 530,000 birds taking this crossing, making this stork the second commonest migrant after the Honey Buzzard. The flocks of raptors, storks and Great White Pelicans can stretch for 200 km (125 mi). The eastern route is twice as long as the western, but storks take the same time to reach the wintering grounds by either route. Juvenile storks set of on their first southward migration in an inherited direction, but if displaced from that bearing by weather conditions, they are unable to compensate, and may end up in a new wintering location. Adults can compensate for strong winds and adjust their direction to finish at their normal winter sites, because they are familiar with the location. For the same reason, all spring migrants, even those from displaced wintering locations, can find their way back to the traditional breeding sites. Once in Africa, the storks spend the winter in savanna from Kenya and Uganda south to the Cape Province of South Africa. In these areas they congregate in large flocks which may reach a thousand individuals or more.” (Wikipedia)

Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus) by Nikhil Devasar

Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus) by Nikhil Devasar

(From Matthew Henry’s Commentary) – “Job 39:13-18
The ostrich is a wonderful animal, a very large bird, but it never flies. Some have called it a winged camel. God here gives an account of it, and observes,
I. Something that it has in common with the peacock, that is, beautiful feathers (Job_39:13): Gavest thou proud wings unto the peacocks? so some read it. Fine feathers make proud birds. The peacock is an emblem of pride; when he struts, and shows his fine feathers, Solomon in all his glory is not arrayed like him. The ostrich too has goodly feathers, and yet is a foolish bird; for wisdom does not always go along with beauty and gaiety. Other birds do not envy the peacock or the ostrich their gaudy colours, nor complain for want of them; why then should we repine if we see others wear better clothes than we can afford to wear? God gives his gifts variously, and those gifts are not always the most valuable that make the finest show. Who would not rather have the voice of the nightingale than the tail of the peacock, the eye of the eagle and her soaring wing, and the natural affection of the stork, than the beautiful wings and feathers of the ostrich, which can never rise above the earth, and is without natural affection?

Storks are in the Ciconiidae Family (slideshow) and there are 19 species of them around the world. The Storks are the only family in the Ciconiiformes Order. See the Storks Page.

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Stork – The Kind Mother – by A. J. Mithra

Stork – The Kind Mother

Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) on nest by Nikhil

Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) on nest by Nikhil

The Hebrew word for stork
Is equivalent to “KIND MOTHER”,
and the care of storks for their young,
in their highly visible nests,
made the stork a widespread emblem
of parental care.

The image of a stork carrying an infant
wrapped in a sling held in its beak
is common in popular culture
and again a symbol of parental care…

As the chicks eat lots of food,
the parents find and eat the food.
Then they come back to the nest
and spit up the food for the chicks to eat..

We are so privileged, for,
JESUS gave HIMSELF
as THE LIVING BREAD
and as THE LIVING WATER,
so that we may have life eternal…
Father and mother may forsake,
but, JESUS will never leave us
nor forsake us..

It was widely noted in ancient natural history,
that the stork would prefer to be consumed
with the nest in a fire,
rather than fly and abandon it.
Such is its commitment towards its family..

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) by Ian

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) by Ian

How committed are we to JESUS?
We say that JESUS is our nest,
I mean SHELTER,
but, how many of us would still
have the courage to walk into the fire
like those three young men?
Do we have the courage to face
persecution like Stephen?
Or will run away from JESUS
and sit in the enemy’s camp like Peter?
When JESUS becomes our NEST,
HE shall give us our ETERNAL REST…

And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped. (Isaiah 10:14 KJV)

Have a blessed day!

Yours in YESHUA,
A. J. Mithra at Crosstree

Click to see more of A. J.’s articles


See the Stork page (a Bird of the Bible)

Storks are in the Ciconiidae Family of the Ciconiiformes Order

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Birds of the Bible – Stork II

Wood Storks in Top of Tree by Lee

Wood Storks in Top of Tree by Lee

Yesterday, Dan and I went out to the Circle B Bar Reserve for some birdwatchng. I think I would have to call it, “Stork Day.” From our photos, I have counted well over 100 Wood Storks and that doesn’t count the ones we didn’t photograph. It is time to find out some more about the stork.

From the first Birds of the Bible – Stork article,we found out that the stork is on the unclean list of birds that were not to be eaten by the Israelites. (Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18). Jeremiah 8:7, tells of “her appointed times” (migration) and Zechariah 5:9 mentions the “wings of a stork.”

Psalms is going to provide our thoughts for today.

The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. (Psalms 104:16-17)

 The Whole Tree

The Whole Tree

As you can tell from the photos, the storks like to hang out in the trees. The trees were loaded with them. We were out there recently (September 18th) and I did not see any on that visit. Jeremiah was correct, “Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times;” Migration has been underway and these are either resting while on their trip or they are going to be here for the winter.

“Storks (family Ciconiidae) make their nests of sticks, reeds and grass, in tall trees. When the chicks hatch, their thin, featherless skin is extremely vulnerable to the direct rays of the sun. The parent bird has two responses to the high temperature problem — if water is nearby, the stork fills its large beak, returns to the nest, and douses the tiny chicks with cooling water. If this is not sufficient, the parent then performs a most remarkable feat — it stands over the young and spreads its large wings over the entire nest, thus shading the chicks from the sun’s rays! Often it will do this for hours at a time.” from “Birdbrains?” at Answers in Genesis

Storks Shadowing Baby in Lakeland by Dan

Storks Shadowing Baby in Lakeland by Dan

When the Lord created the Stork, the knowledge to protect their babies was put in them. Our God and Savior has promised to meet our needs. If He cares about the birds, how much more does he care about us?

“Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills, belonging to the family Ciconiidae. They occur in most of the warmer regions of the world and tend to live in drier habitats than the related herons, spoonbills and ibises; they also lack the powder down that those groups use to clean off fish slime. Storks have no syrinx and are mute, giving no bird call; bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Many species are migratory. Most storks eat frogs, fish, insects, earthworms, and small birds or mammals. There are 19 living species of storks in six genera.

Storks tend to use soaring, gliding flight, which conserves energy. Soaring requires thermal air currents. Ottomar Ansch??tz’s famous 1884 album of photographs of storks inspired the design of Otto Lilienthal’s experimental gliders of the late 19th century. Storks are heavy with wide wingspans, and the Marabou Stork, with a wingspan of 3.2 m (10.5 feet), shares the distinction of “longest wingspan of any land bird” with the Andean Condor.

Their nests are often very large and may be used for many years. Some have been known to grow to over 2 m (6 feet) in diameter and about 3 m (10 feet) in depth. Storks were once thought to be monogamous, but this is only true to a limited extent. They may change mates after migrations, and migrate without them. They tend to be attached to nests as much as partners.

Storks’ size, serial monogamy, and faithfulness to an established nesting site contribute to their prominence in mythology and culture.

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