Children in the northern part of the United States wait for the robin to come in the spring. Children in the northern countries of Europe wait for a bird much bigger than a robin-almost a hundred times bigger. Its long, thin legs make it about as tall as you! This bird is a stork.
There is a very special thing about storks. These great big birds like to build their nests on top of people’s house. Some people think it’s good luck for you if a stork builds its nest on top of your house. Maybe it is, because storks do help keep rats and mice and little snakes away from backyard gardens.
A story as old as the Santa Claus story says that storks bring the new babies to people’s houses and drop them down the chimneys into the waiting arms of mothers. Storks don’t of course. It’s only a pretend story. But storks are gentle and friendly creatures that seem to like to live close to people. Storks fly a long way across water and land to get where they are going. They fly so high in the air that you cab barely see them. But you can hear them.
Since storks are silent and never sing, do you wonder how people can hear them? When you are happy, you clap your hands. Go ahead-do it.And listen when you do. That’s the kind of happy clapping sound that storks make. They click their long red bills while they are flying. The sound floats down from the sky as the many beautiful white storks and a few black ones fly along on their great flapping wings, with their long legs hanging down behind them.
Two at a time, storks come down from the sky to housetops, where they will build their nests. It would be hard for storks to build their big, round nest on a sharp roof. So the children of the house beg their father to put a large wheel i=on the housetop or even on the chimney. The storks go to work at once building their large, messy nest by weaving sticks and straw in and out of the wheel spokes. Then they rest.
What do you do when you want to rest? Sit down? Lie down? Squat? Storks rest by standing on one leg! How long you can stand that way for hours and never look tired! The mother stork lay eggs and then kicks one egg out of the nest. Why? Only the stork knows, but people try to guess. Some say that she is paying her rent for use of the wheel. Children watch and wait, hoping to catch the egg as it falls.Usually they miss.
After the young storks are born, the children gather to watch the baby stork’s first wobbly steps on the sharp rooftop. The young storks grow fast all summer and when autumn is near they start exercising to get their wings strong for the long flight south. The storks stay away all winter, but in the spring they come clapping back to the northern countries, where happy children wait for them, hoping the big birds will again build nests on their rooftops.