Ciconiidae are a family of birds belonging to the order of Ciconiiformes. The best known species of the family is probably the white stork who also lives in Europe and makes long migrations in Africa . Birds are generally large, with a wingspan of between 1.8 and 2.5 m. They have long legs and slender, suitable for walking in shallow water, a long neck and strong, a large beak and sharp. The largest representative of the family is the Indian Marabou which has a wingspan of 2 feet and weighs 6-7 kg.
They generally live in wetlands and feed mainly on fish, frogs, small reptiles, crustaceans and molluscs, insects and occasionally mice. Most species nest in colonies located on trees, swamps or even rarely on rock walls. The storks are also the usual nest of steeples, light poles. The most typical nest is large, made of branches woven cane-shaped vase. Most species live in Africa, Asia and Europe. Many species are migratory , moving at high latitudes during the summer to breed and wintering at tropical latitudes.
Attending lakes and rivers. The stork bird was a highly respected among ancient peoples. According to Claudius Aelian the Egyptians worshiped the storks because they believed that they nurtured their parents become elderly. The fame of bird that care of elderly parents is also cited as an example by St. Basil in his exhortation to the children so that they take loving care of elderly parents now.
The fact that they also feed on snakes did write to Pliny the Elder in his Natural History that in Thessaly was put to death the man who had been found to kill a stork, thesis upheld by Plutarch. The severity is attributed by Ripa also to Puglia then. According to the seventeenth-century author of the Iconologia, Apulia is represented by a woman next to which there is a stork with a snake in its beak because this bird keeps the country from net snakes his killing becomes a crime to be punished with the death.
As the snake sign of pleasure and sinful affections prohibited Ripa indicates the next to a man armed and crowned with a laurel wreath fighting a dragon: he depicts, according to Ripa, I despise et de pleasures & destruction of the bad guys with and the stork that is next is drawn in the act of attacking a tangle of snakes.
Cecco d'Ascoli, poet, doctor, teacher, astrologer / astronomer and philosopher who lived between the thirteenth and the fourteenth century , celebrated in his work Acerba the symbolic virtues of Stork in four sextets of heroic verse. A legend attributes Sant Agricola, bishop of Avignon from 660 to 700, the merit of having released his diocese by snakes just with the use of storks.
Even the Greek mythology attributes, according to Ovid , Antigone, daughter of Laomedon and sister of Priam, the legend according to which Juno, to punish Antigone of his pride, he would have turned his hair into snakes that were biting all the time Antigone to the gods to ask for mercy, they would have turned the poor Trojan in stork, enemy of snakes. In addition, the good qualities of Antigone, such as love for her husband and children, would be transferred to the storks, which have become a symbol of these virtues.
Even at Chinese, Indian and Japanese stork was a bird held in high regard and is associated with longevity or even immortality in this quality is often confused with the crane. In the Christian tradition there is not much place for the stork, more often confused with other waders. It in the Middle Ages , however, was likened to Christ and considered a symbol of filial piety. The characteristic of devouring snakes also made it an emblem of Christ, which fights incessantly the devil. The stork also appears in numerous noble arm and the mark of a porcelain factory in the second half of the eighteenth century, based in The Hague intent on devouring a serpent.
But the stork as a symbol has also had a negative value. In the Bible, the stork is considered an unclean bird. For it St. Jerome, perhaps because of the croaking emits, associated attitudes misunderstandings and or mocking and even when it was depicted with a fish in its beak the storks also feed on small fish, was regarded as the emblem of the devil who steals a soul to God.
The stork is known today cited as a metaphor for the birth of children who, according to legend, would be one of them flown into the house of the woman in labor. There are different versions, not very dissimilar to each other, to explain the belief that is at the origin. A, native to Northern Europe, is given by its symbolic connection to the Great Mother, the other, always connected to the aforementioned primordial divinity, derives from the nature of aquatic bird of the stork life in the waters of the womb of the Great Mother, while a third is provided by the writer and linguist Angelo de Gubernatis, which explains the German popular belief according to which the storks infants in a fountain, with the fact that this bird lives in watery areas and then Rainy the baby would be so the new sun rising from the clouds after long days of rain.
Another interpretation has it that the belief is born from the fact that the storks build their nests on hot spots like chimneys and at the time of the legend the only homes they had ever turned on the fireplace were those where there was a newborn.