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Airdate: May 26, 2004
Scientist: Andras Schmidt

Storks - Voices

Storks - Voices
Baby storks have a cry remarkably like human babies, but adult storks clatter their bills instead of calling.

Storks - Voices

Music; Ambience: baby stork cries

We tend to associate storks with babies, and of course the only babies that storks really deliver are baby storks, such as the ones we're listening to right now. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The sounds made by infant storks are remarkably like those of human babies, and they have a similar effect on their parents.

AS: "Baby chicks can hiss or squeak, begging for food, to draw their parents' attention to themselves and to force them to bring food."

Andras Schmidt is an environmental official in Hungary, a country that's the spring and summer home of ninety per cent of the white storks in the world. Hungarians have plenty of chances to hear storks, which tend to nest on rooftops and church spires, and return to the exact same spot year after year. But the squalling of baby storks will soon give way to a very different sound as the birds mature.

Ambience: adult stork clattering and squawking

AS: "When they sit on the nest, they greet each other clattering their bills. Usually one bird of the adults of the pair, sits on the nest and protects the chicks and when the other bird returns from the feeding ground, he or she greets the returning bird with bill clattering and then they clatter together. Adult storks have a powerful instinct to protect their young. In the first four weeks of raising the chicks, the instinct to protect the chicks is stronger than to feed it. For example, if one of the pair dies, then the other one will sit on the chicks to protect them, and will not go to feed them, no matter how hard the chicks are begging for food, because his or her instinct is to protect the chicks first."

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation.