Stork
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Source: Koninklijke Bibliotheek - Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts Copyright 2002 Koninklijke Bibliotheek / Used by permission Manuscript description Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16, Folio 80r


 

Stork

Latin name: Ciconia

Other names: Cigogne, Segonyge, Seingoingne

Two crows lead flocks of storks when they cross the sea to Asia

 

 
General Attributes

Storks are harbringers of spring. Parents care well for their young, and the young care for their parents when they grow old (an attribute later applied to the hoopoe). They watch their nests so zealously that they lose their feathers from constantaly brooding. They are named after the rattling noise they make by striking their beaks. They are companions of society, but enemies of snakes. Two crows lead flocks of storks when they cross the sea to Asia.


Allegory/Moral

As storks make a sound by clashing their bills, so do those who 'with weeping and gnashing of teeth' proclaim their guilt through confession. As the stork is the enemy of the snake, so the righteous should be the enemy of the "snakes" of evil thoughts.


Sources (chronological order)

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 41): Storks use the herb marjoram as a drug when they are sick. (Book 10, 31-32): No one knows where storks go or where they come from during migration; they depart and arrive only at night. When they are preparing to leave they all gather at a fixed place and depart together as if the appropriate date was fixed in advance. Some say storks have no tongue. They are highly valued in some places for their ability to kill snakes. Storks return to the same nest each year, and care for their parents in their old age.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:16-17): Storks (ciconiae) are named after the noise they make, which is not from their voice but from the rattling of their beaks. Storks are the heralds of spring, the enemies of snakes and the companions of society. They fly in line across seas to Asia, preceeded by two crows who they follow like an army. They take extraordinary care of their young, even to the extent of loosing their feathers through constant brooding; but later their young feed them for as long as they spent raising their children.


Illustration

The stork is usually depicted in a realistic manner, often eating a frog or a snake.


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