The Shoebill Stork (Balaeniceps rex) , also known as a whalehead, whale-headed stork, or shoe-billed stork, is a prehistoric (one of the few mammals that have not undergone evolution for a long time). It’s a solitary bird that lives in either muddy areas or wetlands. It’s closely related to pelicans and herons.
The Shoebill derives its name from its enormous shoe-shaped bill. It has a somewhat stork-like overall form and has previously been classified with the storks in the order Ciconiiformes based on this morphology. However, genetic evidence places it with the Pelecaniformes. The adult is mainly grey while the juveniles are browner. It lives in tropical east Africa in large swamps from Sudan to Uganda to Zambia.
Shoebills are slow movers, patient and not at tactical in their ways of hunting but
in most cases resides in areas with hard conditions of breathing for its prey so
that it can get them when on the surface in search of breath. This is common in
swampy areas where reptiles like snakes, frogs, mud fish, cat fish and young
crocodiles fall prey. It’s fast in striking with a hooked kind of bill hence making it a
successful hunter with 60%.
Shoebills will collectively (both male and female) construct a nest on floating
vegetation with a lot of soft vegetation that can even be of 2-3 feet deep.
She will lay her eggs (1-3) and incubate them for 30 days. During that period both
sexes are highly territorial (2-4km squared) but the female more aggressive
compared to male.
All eggs are always hatched but surprisingly, there is only one favored chick that
will win the attention of the parents hence feed it more and the rest starve to
death. Young ones are browner in color compared to the adult that is known for
its greyish plumage. Both parents feed the chicks from food that is regurgitated
from their scrotum. Chicks can fly at the age of 3 and half months and sexually
mature at the age of 3 years.
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