In the warm days of the spring, some of the large white birds we see in the sky while flying our kites are storks. The stork is a big, migratory bird that is one to one and a half metres (60 inches) in height, mostly with large white wings and a long black tail. Its beak and long legs are red, giving them a lovely appearance.
One of the most striking characteristics of storks is the way they fly. While flying, they extend their heads forward and push their legs backward. This aesthetic style of storks enables them to fly much faster by cleaving the air aerodynamically. Every year, storks migrate to warm regions because they are vulnerable to cold. That is why when we see storks arriving, we also receive the glad tidings of hot summer days. In the summer season, storks live in the temperate regions that extend from Europe to North Africa and from Turkey to Japan. Before the weather cools, they migrate to the southern hemisphere, tropical Africa and India.
It is amazing that storks know it becomes warm in the southern hemisphere at that time of the year. This is a miracle. Yet, what is more amazing is that, after six months, exactly at spring, storks fly all the way back, covering distances of thousands of kilometres, to find the nests they left behind.
This is astonishing indeed.
Storks find the nests they made the previous year and settle there again. But how do they find their old nest right away after such a long time? Do they use a compass in order not to lose their way? Of course, such a good memory and excellent sense of direction have been inspired in storks by their Lord, Allah.
In addition, these stick-legged animals do not travel overseas because they need some land on which to stop and rest when they become exhausted. For this reason, they prefer travelling across seas close to land such as the Bosphorus, the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal.
Storks do not avoid human beings and they build their nests on the tops of buildings, trees and chimneys. Usually flocks of storks migrate together. When they arrive in Europe, they spend some time there. Ordinarily, during the first week of April, the male stork builds a nest from branches. As we mentioned earlier, he chooses the same place every year. He carefully protects the nest and occasionally leaves it to search for food. Some kinds of stork make their nests in swamps on top of branches and they live in groups. You can find twelve large stork nests on the very same cypress tree. The fact that birds live in communities has been also pointed out in the Qur'an:
There is no creature crawling on the earth or flying creature, flying on its wings, who are not communities just like yourselves – We have not omitted anything from the Book – then they will be gathered to their Lord. (Surat al-An'am: 38)
Do you know how storks communicate with each other? They communicate with each other not by making different vocal sounds but by making noises with their beaks. They explain many things to each other with "tap tap" sounds.
Here is another question: do you know that storks dance? When they get together, the male stork and his spouse dance by tapping their beaks and flapping their wings. During this dance, the male stork tries to attract the female stork's attention. If you consider that a stork is almost the same height as a man, you can imagine how impressive this dance is.
Not all storks are the same height. The smallest kind of stork is the Asian and African openbill. When they close their bills, only the two ends of the bill close together. The remaining parts remain apart. This kind of beak enables the stork to eat snails and mussels more easily.
That Allah creates every living being with various capabilities in a beautiful fashion is something that helps us to have a deeper faith in Him and helps us to see His might and perfect creation in everything we see around us and to understand His signs.