Why Are Storks Seen as a Symbol of Fertility and Childbirth?

Stork
Photo by Janet R on Unsplash

There are many symbolic meanings associated with different types of birds, and storks are no exception. They’re often associated with childbirth and shown delivering babies to their proud parents, but how did they become a symbol of fertility over the years?

Storks’ connection to childbirth can be attributed to several different factors, from myths and legends to their actual physical characteristics. The origins of this myth can be traced to their migration patterns – storks would usually head to warmer climates and return just in time for the breeding season, around the time when many babies were born.

Storks became so commonly associated with birth in Europe that Hans Christian Andersen decided to capture them in his fairy tale “The Storks”. This fable popularized the idea that storks would pluck babies from ponds and lakes and deliver them to deserving families.

Similar tales gained traction in other cultures around Europe, but there seemed to be another, deeper reason why people relied on these fables to explain the miracle of childbirth. Blaming childbirth on storks allowed grow-ups to avoid uncomfortable questions about how children are truly born during a time when discussing these matters was still taboo.

Rachel Warren Chadd, co-author of Birds: Myth, Lore, and Legend, believes there’s another reason why it was up to storks to fulfill this responsibility and not some other bird species. Their white color is associated with purity, while their large nests were located close to where people lived, making it easy for them to deliver babies in these fairy tales.