Storks eat snakes.
Two recognisable storks in a roundel. One is eating a frog, not the snake mentioned in the text and the other may be snapping its beak together.
Although the stork is only recorded once in the middle ages as a visitor to Britain, the Aberdeen artist has created a remarkably accurate portrait of the bird (and the frog). The original source for the illustration must have been made on the Continent by someone who had observed storks. There is a quire mark ('h') at the bottom centre of the page.
- Transcription and Translation
Transcriptionserpentis hostes, maria transvolant, in Asiam collecto\ agmine pergunt. Cornices\ duces precedunt, et ipse quasi\ exercitus prosequuntur. Eximia\ illis circa filios pietas. Nam\ adeo nidos impensius fo\ vent, ut assiduo incubitu\ plumas exuant. Quantum\ autem tempus impende\ rint in fetibus educandis,\ tantum et ipse invicem a pul\ lis suis aluntur. Ciconie\ sonum oris pro voce quatiente rostro flaciunt [PL,faciunt]. Illos autem\ pretendunt qui cum fletu et stridore dentium quod male\ gesserunt ore promunt. Hee sunt nuntie veris, quia ceteris\ demonstrant temperantiam converse mentis. Societatis sunt\ comites, quia libenter habitant inter fratres. Dicitur etiam de ciconia\ quod serpentium sit inimica. Serpentes sunt perverse cogitatio\ nes, seu perversi fratres, quos ciconia rostro percutit, dum iustus\ pravas cogitationes restringit, vel perversos fratres perungenti [PL, pungenti]\ invectione reprehendit. Maria transvolant, in Asiam collec\ to agmine pergunt. Asia interpretatur elevata. Maria igitur transvo\ lat et Asiam pergit, qui spretis mundi tumultibus ad altio\ ra tendit. Eximia illis circa filios pietas ut assiduo incu\ bitu super eos exuant plumas. Assiduo incubitu sup[er] pul\ los ciconie plumas exuunt, quia dum prelati subiectos nutri\ unt, superfluitatis et levitatis a se plumas evellunt. Quantum\ autem tempus impenderint in fetibus educandis, tantum et ipse\ invicem a pullis suis aluntur. Quantum pulli eorum indigent\ tamdiu ciconie eos nutrire debent, quia in quantum indigent
Translationthey are the enemies of snakes; they fly across the sea, making their way in flocks to Asia. Crows go in front of them as their guides, the storks following them as if in an army. Storks possess a strong sense of duty towards their young. They are so keen to keep their nests warm that their feathers fall out as a result of the constant incubation. But their young spend as much time caring for them when they grow old, as they spend caring for their young. Storks make a sound by clashing their bills. They represent those who 'with weeping and gnashing of teeth' (Matthew, 8:12) proclaim from their own mouths the evil they have done. Storks herald the spring, like those who demonstrate to others the moderation of a mind that has undergone conversion. They have a sense of community like those who live willingly in the community of their brothers. It is said also that the stork is the enemy of snakes. Snakes are evil thoughts or evil brothers; the stork strikes snakes with its bill, as the righteous check evil thoughts or reprimand their wicked brothers with penetrating rebukes. Storks fly across the sea and make their way in flocks to Asia. Asia signifies heavenly things. Those people also fly across the sea to Asia, therefore, who, scorning the commotions of the world, aim for higher things. Storks are are notably devoted to their young, with the result that their feathers fall out from constant incubation. Storks lose their feathers from the constant incubation of their young in the same way that prelates, when they nourish those in their charge, pluck out from their own bodies the feathers of excess and weakness. Young storks spend as much time caring for their parents as their parents spent on rearing them. Storks must nourish their young in proportion to their need, in the same way that