Bird Watcher's General Store

Why The Stork Brings Babies - 09/21/01


Dear Bird Folks,

I am new around here, very new. The only bird that I know about is the stork. I would very much like to know why the stork was chosen to deliver babies to their families.

- Hannah J., 10 days old, North Eastham

Welcome Hannah J.,

It is always nice to have a new reader. First of all, I would like to say that you have very good writing skills for being only 10 days old. I couldn't write that well until I was almost 15 days old.

Like most traditions in this country, the stork thing started in a wacky part of the world called Europe. Storks winter in Africa, but return to Europe every spring to nest on the roofs of farm houses. Spring is a time of birth in Europe - new cows are born as well as horses, goats and the occasional troll. Spring arrival is important, for most farm couples hope to have their children arrive in the spring so they'll be big enough to help in the fields come summer time.

Storks are very strong and powerful fliers and can easily carry even the biggest baby to the farmer. Other birds, that also return to the farms in the spring, such as swallows, are only able to deliver very small children. And small children are not well suited for farm work. The long beak is also an advantage for the stork. Storks are able to pick up the baby by hooking the diaper on its beak. That is very important because for hundreds of years the EPA has required all babies wear diapers while being flown over crowded neighborhoods.

The interesting thing about storks is that they eat frogs, mice, snakes and even young birds. So new babies are being delivered by flying carnivores, which is a scary thought. But it should be noted that there is no record of a stork ever eating any baby. Although there are perhaps a few they should have eaten.

Other countries have tried other methods to deliver babies, but the stork has beaten them out every time. Australia used to have the kangaroos deliver the babies, as the pouch is very comfortable way to travel. However, all the jumping caused way too much motion sickness. Most babies don't need another excuse to spit up, so the kangaroo method was abandoned.

In this country we tried pelicans for a while. Pelicans seemd like a perfect fit. The babies could ride in that big roomy bottom beak that the pelican has and they didn't even need to wear a diaper. And if it began to rain, the kids could simply shut the top beak and stay dry. However, many parents complained about the fish smell on their new children. And since babies have enough odd smells, the pelican idea was eventually dropped. Even UPS gave baby delivering a shot, but they had a problem with the shipping labels not sticking to the new babies' soft and slippery skin. A few labeless babies were lost in shipping (and somehow ended up in my house).

So there ya go, Hannah J., I hope that answers your question. my research found many more examples of other methods of baby delivery over the years, but the stork has always won out. And judging by the large number of school buses I'm always getting stuck behind, they are doing a very good job.



Artwork by Catherine Clark


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