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WHAT IS THAT BIRD???


Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus)

The Marabou Stork, a large wading bird found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, can grow up to five feet in height.  Its rather ungainly and almost sinister appearance have inspired fear and legends across several cultures.  This stork is sometimes referred to as the “undertaker bird” due to its gaunt form, cloak-like wings, and white mass of “hair” when viewed from behind.  Its bald head is an adaptation for its scavenger lifestyle, in which it feeds on carrion, or animal carcasses.   The Marabou Stork will, however, eat a variety of live animals, including pelican and cormorant chicks, pigeons, frogs, reptiles, fish and small mammals  It is often found feeding among vultures.


The Marabou Stork’s hairless head and neck are adaptations for eating carrion

The Marabou Stork inhabits a range of habitat types, including savanna, grasslands, swamps, riverbanks, and receding ponds.  It is frequently found near human habitation, as it often scavenges on human waste.  As ugly and fearsome as it may appear, the Marabou Stork plays a key role in the ecosystems it inhabits.  Along with the various vulture species, the Marabou Stork can be thought of as the “garbageman” of the savanna, cleaning up carcasses and waste which may otherwise not get eaten.

The Marabou Stork’s hairless head and neck are adaptations for eating carrion


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