Marabou Stork - Leptoptilos crumeniferus

  • Length: 3.8-5.0 ft (115.0-152.0 cm)
  • Wingspan: 7.0-10.0 ft (213.4-304.8 cm)
  • Clutch Size: 2-3 , Chicks at birth: Altricial
  • IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Marabou Stork is native to Africa. Some Marabou storks are reported to have wingspan of over 13' which makes it the largest wing-spread of any living bird. Most have wing spans between 7-9'. Marabou Storks are also long lived. They can live 25 years or more.

Both sexes have a bare head and neck, black to dark gray back and wings, and white underparts. The female is smaller and juveniles are more brown than black. Both have a massive and wedge-shaped bill that has a fleshy, inflatable, pink wattle below it and a white collar around the neck. The legs are long and dark gray like the feet.

Like Vultures, they defecate on their feet. This whitewash has strong antiseptic properties and it helps regulate their temperature.

The Marabou Stork is of 'Least Concern'.

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Diet: Marabou Stork are excellent fliers and will soar high above the ground looking for food. Like vultures they will eat carrion and also like vultures they do not have feathers on their head and neck which would be a hindrance in feeding on carrion. They also eat live prey such as small birds and their chicks, fish, frogs, insects, eggs, reptiles, crocodile hatchlings and eggs. They also eat human garbage.

It is reported that they will take advantage of grass fires. They will march in front of the fires grabbing fleeing animals.

Courtship: Marabou Storks are gregarious and flocks of up to 1,000 will roost together at night. They also breed in colonies during the dry season. The male will establish his territory and defend it by inflating his throat pouch. Females do the actual courting.

Nesting: Nests are built in trees, cliff-ledges, buildings by both sexes high above the ground. The male brings the sticks and the female forms the nest. The nests are three feet wide and are 33-100 feet above ground. The nest is made up of sticks and lined with green leaves. 2-3 eggs are laid by the female. Both parents will brood the nest and feed the chicks. Regurgitate food is fed to the chicks.

Habitat and Range: They inhabit savannas, grasslands, swamps, riverbanks and lakeshores in Africa, south of the Saharan Desert.

Vocalization: They are not very vocal birds but will use their throat sac to make noises during courtship. They also defend their territory by making various sounds such as grunts, squeak, whistles and by clacking their bills.

Plumage/Molt Marabou storks molt their feather sequentially, continuously and slowly. The duration of molt varies with type of feather, and is 1 year for primaries and 12-15 months for secondaries.

Migration: Marabou Stork or are sedentary or locally nomadic. They movements are influenced by availability of water and prey.

Tongue/feet: Dark gray feet and legs. The toes are short and basally webbed.

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