STORK. (חֲסִידָה, H2884, [from root meaning constant, loyal, loving] stork all Eng. VSS). Earlier VSS had offered a range of trs. LXX has heron, pelican, hoopoe and “hasida,” but from KJV onward stork is the accepted tr. Three points in the contexts confirm this tr. (a) It is unclean (Lev 11:19). Storks feed in muddy places and at some seasons take mainly frogs. (b) It is migratory (Jer 8:7). (c) It is a very large bird, implied by Zechariah 5:9: “...like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the ephah.” Both white and black storks are regular birds of passage through Pal. and the scavenging marabou stork a rare straggler. In spring white storks fly from their winter haunts in Africa and SW Arabia to their nesting grounds in Europe and Asia, and provide spectacular sights. Flocks of many hundreds come through from the end of February into May. (See Bird Migration.) They once nested in Pal.: “The stork has her home in the fir trees” (Ps 104:17), but those that stay for the summer now are prob. yearlings. On the ground, standing well over three ft. tall, and in the air, with neck outstretched and red legs trailing, this black and white bird is unmistakable. Dropping down to rest, they quickly spread out over the fields and marshes to hunt for fish, frogs and insects. The black stork is smaller and darker; having wintered in S Africa the black storks come through in very small groups, following a different path northward.
See Bird Migration.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(chacidhah; variously rendered in the Septuagint: Le 11:19, erodios; De 14:18, pelekan; Job 39:13, hasida (transliteration of Hebrew); Zec 5:9, (epops; Latin Ciconia alba): A large wading bird of the family Ardeidae, related to crane, ibis, heron and bittern. The stork on wing is a bird of exquisite beauty. The primary, secondary and a few of the tertiary wing feathers are black, the remainder, also the head, neck, and back and under parts white, the bill and legs red. When a perching white bird suddenly unfolds these wonderful wings, having at times a sweep of 7 ft., and sails away, it makes a very imposing picture. Zechariah in a vision saw a woman having the wings of a stork; Zec 5:9, "Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there came forth two women, and the wind was in their wings; now they had wings like the wings of a stork; and they lifted up the ephah between eaxth and heaven." These birds winter in Africa. In their spring migration many pairs pause in Palestine, others cross the Mediterranean and spread over the housetops, ruins and suitable building-places of Europe as far north as Rolland and England. Always and everywhere the bird has been more or less protected on account of its fidelity to a chosen location, its fearlessness of man and the tender love between mated pairs and for its young.
The stork first appears among the birds of abomination, and it is peculiar that the crane does not, for they are closely related. But the crane eats moles, mice, lizards and smaller animals it can capture, also frogs and fish. To this same diet the stork adds carrion and other offensive matter, and the laws of Moses, as a rule, are formulated with good reason. Yet at one time, storks must have been eaten, for Pliny quoted Cornelius Nepos, who died in the days of Augustus Caesar, as saying that "in his time storks were holden for a better dish at board than cranes." Pliny adds: "Yet see, how in our age now, no man will touch a stork if it be set before him on the board, but everyone is ready to reach into the crane and no dish is more in request." He also wrote that it was a capital crime in Thessaly to kill storks, because of their work in slaying serpents. This may have been the beginning of the present laws protecting the bird, reinforced by the steady growth of respect and love for its tender, gentle disposition. The Hebrew word chaidhah, from which the stork took its name, means "kindness."
There is a smaller stork having a black neck and back, that homes in Palestine, but only in small numbers as compared with the white. These birds flock and live in forests around the borders of waste and desert places, and build in trees. The young of both species remain a long time in the nest and are tenderly cared for, so much so indeed that from their performances and love of building on housetops arose the popular tradition that the stork delivers newly born children to homes. The birds first appear in Le 11:19 and De 14:18. Jeremiah noticed that the stork was migratory; see 8:7: "Yea, the stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle-dove and the swallow and the crane observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the law of Yahweh." The Psalmist referred to their nesting in the cedars of Lebanon, for in Palestine these birds could not build on housetops, which were flat, devoid of chimneys and much used by the people as we use a veranda today; see Ps 104:17:
"Where the birds make their nests:
As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house."