The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Location
Uncertain, but known in the Shire1
Species
About twenty species in the family Ciconiidae2
Meaning
From Old English storc, probably ultimately from an ancient root *ster- meaning 'stiff'

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About this entry:

  • Updated 7 September 2018
  • This entry is complete

Storks

Large, long-legged birds

Tall birds with long legs and long bills, noted for migrating over remarkable distances and building large nests on high perches. It was perhaps this latter habit that caused a startled and confused Bilbo Baggins to blurt out the word 'storks' when he found himself among the high shelves of the Eagles' Eyrie. This is indeed the only recorded mention of storks in the tales of the Middle-earth, but it does at least tell us that they were known in the Shire. Given the northerly latitude of that land, however, storks were unlikely to have been more than very occasional visitors.


Notes

1

We know of the existence of storks in Middle-earth, but only from a passing reference by Bilbo, and so it's far from clear where in Middle-earth they were found. Since Bilbo's knew of them, we can at least say that they were familiar to the Shire-hobbits, but that does not necessarily mean that storks were to be found in the Shire itself. The Shire's northerly location would likely make it too cold for storks - at least for varieties known in the modern world - so perhaps the Hobbits knew of them from the tales of travellers or story-tellers who had passed through warmer, more southerly lands.

2

Though there are many different species of stork, few of these are seen in the parts of the World represented by northwestern Middle-earth. Bilbo probably had in mind the White Stork, Ciconia ciconia. This is by far the most commonly seen stork in Europe, though it rarely ranges as far north - at least in modern times - as the more temperate latitudes where the Shire was to be found.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 7 September 2018
  • This entry is complete

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