Monday, November 21, 2011

The Birds Series: The Marabou Stork

Those that know me know that I have an irrational fear and hatred of birds. (Actually, I think it's perfectly justified!)  "But Why?" you might ask. There are a number of traumatic experiences to point to and, in an attempt to bring some levity to your day, I'm going to chronicle as many of those moments as I can remember.  So...keep a look out for The Birds Series.

I’ve encountered a variety of exotic birds while in Africa. Some small and, even I’ll admit, intriguing like the little yellow weavers. Others are big and odd, like the ostrich that roamed free through one of the hotels we stayed at. But there was one bird we encountered that was large, loud and scary. And it was roaming free at the hotel (different one. For some reason people go to Africa to bird watch! Can you imagine?)

The Marabou Stork may be where the actual baby-carrying stork legend came from. It’s tall, with skinny legs and a very large beak (bill). The sight of the beak is intimidating since it is so large and strong and pointy. But it’s the SOUND the Marabou makes with that beak that is truly terrifying. It is quiet and seemingly meek until it feels intimidated OR, and this is my own theory but I’ll stand by it, it sees a small human child that it towers over and definitely out weighs. It is then that the bird starts stalking towards its prey, gaining speed if needed, while clacking the beak together. The mouth opens and closes, CLACK, CLACK, CLACK, like boards clapping together or slipper slapped against the floor over and over again, ringing in your ears and spiking your adrenaline.

The problem is that the first inclination is to turn and run as far and as fast as you can. But then, as soon as you turn your back you can just imagine, almost feel with certain terror, that the crazy bird, still clapping its beak at you, has sped up its slow walk on spindly legs. It’s wings are unfurling, beating and urging him on until he’s running, the air pushing him forward and strong enough to ruffle the hair on the back of your head. Finally, his speed is enough to float him into the air, legs trailing after him as he gains altitude and shortens the distance between the two of you until he can swoop down and drill his beak right into the top of your head.

There’s no defense. You just cower in fear and hope that some helpful soul will rescue you before your certain demise.

Kenya pictures aren't this will have to do for now.
If you want more facts check Wikipedia for descriptions of this
"massive" bird and it's "bill-rattling".
(In case you you thought I was exaggerating. I'd never do that!)

Go here for more in the birds series, or see the link on the side bar.

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