April 11, 2016
A Stork Brings Memories
- as seen by -Betelhem Petersson
I saw my first marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) along the shore of Lake Awasa while on a recent family trip to Ethiopia to see my birth relatives. It was exciting because I had not been back to Africa since I was adopted at 16 months old.
The marabou stork is a big, majestic bird with long legs, large beak, giant wingspan, and beautiful colors of red, black, and white. Walking along the lake, I was kind of surprised that the birds were so close. When one flew off, it was sudden and a little scary, but it moved so gracefully that I felt like I could watch this bird for hours.
Marabou storks have several ways of communicating with each other. Like many other animals, they use calls to keep in touch. They can also send a message by filling up their gular sacs with air to warn other animals to back off. A gular sac is made of featherless skin that connects the bottom of the beak, or bill, and the neck together. It is also known as a throat sac.
These storks are very gentle creatures. When I was near, they didn’t pay attention to me. The storks generally ignored each other, too, except when they were hunting, then they liked their space.
I have seen many birds in my life, but this one is the most memorable because whenever I think of this bird, I will remember my home country of Ethiopia.