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Safari Africa Animal Fact Sheet
MARABOU STORK
Leptoptilos crumeniferus

Range:
Africa – South of the Sahara Desert

The Marabou is unmistakable due to its size, bare head and neck, black back, and white underparts. It has a huge bill, a pink gular sack at its throat, a neck ruff, and black legs and wings. The sexes are alike, but the young bird is browner and has a smaller bill. Full maturity is not reached for up to four years.

Like most storks, the Marabou is gregarious and a colonial breeder. In the African dry season (when food is more readily available as the pools shrink) it builds a tree nest in which two or three eggs are laid.

It also resembles other storks in that it is not very vocal, but indulges in bill-rattling courtship displays. The throat sack is also used to make various noises at that time.

The Marabou Stork is a frequent scavenger, and the naked head and neck are adaptations to this, as it is with the vultures with which the stork often feeds. In both cases, a feathered head would become rapidly clotted with blood and other substances when the bird's head was inside a large corpse, and the bare head is easier to keep clean.




Habitat: Open savannahs near large lakes or rivers.
Diet: Living prey includes termites, fish, locusts, grasshoppers, caterpillars, frogs, rodents, crocodile eggs and hatchlings, doves, young and adult flamingos, cormorant nestlings, and pelican chicks.
Status: Least Concern (IUCN)
Approximate Dimensions of Adult:

Wingspan: Up to 10.5 feet.
Height: Up to 5 feet tall.

Lifespan: Up to 25 years.
Reproduction & Offspring: Lay 2-3, pale bluish chalky white eggs that are incubated for 29-31 days.

 

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