The Specular Shoebill Stork
The Shoebill Stork
The Shoebill Stork a.k.a Balaeniceps rex is a a Stork-like bird that can be found in swamps from Sudan to Zambia. Its name comes from their distinctive beak.
Recently, it's was discovered that they are more closely related to pelicans and they are considered a "missing link" between stork and pelicans.
They lay two eggs and build their nests on the ground. In captivity they can live for 30 years.
Other names they go by: Whale-head Stork and Bog Bird.
Beauty or a Beast
Do you think the Shoebilled Storke is Beautiful or Ugly?
Adult Shoebill Stork's plumage is grey while younger one are browner.
They can be 45 to 60 inches tall and weigh about 8-15 pounds. They have a wingspan of about 90 to 125 inch, and they can fly even though it uncommon for them to do so. Their signature beaks 23 centimeter long (9 inches) and 10 centimeters wide (4 inches wide.)
Their most identifiable characteristic is their beaks which looks like a wooden shoe that is tan with black blotches. They have a white tuff on their head and their eyes are yellow iris and a black pupil. There is little difference between male and females except male are larger.
Aren't they cute?
Shoebill Storks like in wetlands areas; freshwater swamps, dense marshes and areas of papyrus, reed, and grass beds in tropical parts of Eastern Africa.
They live mainly in Sudan. Due to habit destruction, BirdLife International has classified the Shoebill Stork as Vulnerable and they are protected under African Law. There is thought to be 8,000-10,000 in the wild.
Shoebill Storks eat fish (lungfish, tilapia, and bichirs), reptiles, small turtles, water snakes, frogs, baby crocodiles and small mammals. T
hey will stalk their prey and then take a lunge at their it, beak first with its whole body behind it, it's not the most graceful method but it gets the job done. They tend to forage in water with low oxygen levels. which is where fish most surface more often.
Where can you see them?
Aside from going to countries in Africa that have the wetlands where they live, where can you see the Shoebill Stork?
Shoebill Stork are a rare Zoo animal. There are only about 12 adults in captivity in North America and only two have been born in captivy but they can be seen at;
Tampa Lowery Zoo Park (the first zoo to have a chick hatch 12/25/09)
Weil vogelpark Walsrode (Germany)
Ueno Zoo (Japan)
Entebbe Zoo (Uganda)
Shoebill Stork Road trip
Would you go to one of the Zoos to see the Shoebill Stork?
The first time
The first time I heard of the Shoebill Stork was many years ago when I was watching Animal Planet's the most extreme. The Show-bill Stork came in first place for most ugly. It was considered more ugly than the naked mole rat, which I do not agree with.
I think the Shoebill stork is rather cute with it large beak and grey feather, I will admit it not the most graceful bird in the world but their something other worldly about it that makes it captivating and almost magical.