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Storks Bring More Than Babies

There is a large stork that arrives in Niger, usually sometime in May, before the rainy season really begins.  And what do the storks bring?  Babies?  Nope, they bring rain or at least the promise of rain.

Local farmers have told us that when they see the Abdim's Stork....or waliya in Songhai....that they know it is time to prepare their fields for the rainy season.  

I asked once if people eat the storks and the person looked at me like I'd grown two heads.  The answer was, "No.  They bring the rainy season.  We would never kill something that brings us a blessing."

I love watching them soaring in the sky, riding the heat waves, looking for insects, frogs, and other delectable creatures to eat.

(Sorry, it's kind of blurry!)
 The insect population increases rapidly in the rainy season and the storks are helpful in consuming massive amounts of them.  One thing they especially like are locusts, so they are natural helpers in keeping away one of the farmer's biggest pests.  (Though when there is a locust plague, even the storks can't keep up with the numbers.)

Twice somebody has brought us a young one to show us.  They'll keep them until they're ready to fly.  I suppose these particular ones fell out of the nest or were injured in some way. 
Our guard brought this one into our compound.  I don't think he looks too happy all hunkered
down like that.  
 The Abdim's Stork breeds in West Africa.  When the rains are over and the little ones are big enough to fly, they head east into eastern Africa and eventually make their way as far south as Namibia, Botswana, and even South Africa where they stay throughout our dry season.

If you're interested in reading more here are two links to help you out:
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