Facts About Shoebill Stork

Facts About Shoebill Stork will give you some light on the amazing bird species and the key points that bird lovers need to know about this bird. This article includes some of the important facts about shoebill stork that you need to know. These facts include the physical structure, feeding facts, behaviors, lifespan, movements, and habitats of the rare shoebill stork, among others as explained within this article 

Physical description facts about shoebill stork 

Shoebill stork scientifically known as Balaeniceps rex lies in the same class with Pelican Dalmatian and sometimes people confuse it with the pelicans due to its physical structure.

  • Mouth: The shoebill stork has a shoe-like shaped mouth  thus the name shoebill originated from the mouth shape and then with a sharp bent beak that enables it to tear  mammals into reasonable sizes for easy digestion 
  • Foot:  The shoebill storks have a long foot that goes up to 18 cm which is close to the size of human foot size
  • Height: The  An average mature shoebill stork has a height of 4-5 ft while standing tall on its two legs which makes it join the list of tall birds in the world  
  • Weight: A mature female shoebill weighs about 11 pounds equivalent to 5.6 kgs while a male shoebill weighs about 12 pounds which is equivalent to 4.9 kg 

Conservation status 

The population of Shoebill storks is marked as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with the remaining bird species estimated to be less than  10,000. This is due to the fact that several fishermen hunt them and kill them whenever they find their on their fishing grounds believing that they bring bad omen.

Other factors affecting the population of shoebill stork include;  power production, pollution, epidemic diseases, changes in climatic conditions such as drought, and other factors including political instabilities that lead to wars, agricultural practices such as mining and farming that have led to clearing of swamps thus leading destruction of habitats for the shoebill storks and for the case with Uganda, The estimated population of rare shoebill stork remains approximately 1000 that are still surviving in Uganda the pearl of Africa making Uganda one of the topmost places to visit if you really want to encounter the rare shoebill in their own natural habitats.

Habitats of rare shoebill stork 

Shoebill storks are both nocturnal and water birds due to the fact that they prefer spending their time along with water bodies and in the hideouts. Shoebill stork inhabits places with water and very thick marshes which create a good hiding place for them as they target their meals. The shoebill storks are common in Africa due to the nature of the vegetation that favors them. In Africa, they are found in different destinations such as Uganda which is home to about 1000 shoebills that are easily traced in different locations in Uganda during birding, boat cruise, and game drive. Some of the best places to encounter then while on a trip include Mabamba Swamp close to Lake Victoria, Lake Mburo national park, Queen Elizabeth national park with in the swamp in the Ishasha sector, Semliki wildlife reserve, and Ziwa rhino sanctuary without forgetting Nabajuzi swamp in Masaka region. In fact, Uganda is a birders paradise with very many unique and rare bird species in the world. 

Other places to find shoebills in Africa include; Rwanda, Zambia, Sudan, Tanzania, eastern Congo, Cameroon, Botswana and Kenya among others that have wetland areas with plenty of food for the shoebill stork, good hiding places against the attack from their predators and breeding grounds for the endangered rare shoebill stork since they normally prefer building their nests in the open marshes of the vegetation cover and most preferably in the swamps where they lay a maximum of three eggs 

Behavioral facts about shoebill stork

  • Defecating: Shoebill storks normally defecate on themselves which scientists have proved that they use their droppings to cool their bodies from heat and this has been confirmed as one of the behaviors of all storks 
  • Solitary birds: Shoebill storks are known to be solitary bird species, and peacefully prefer living alone. Even hunting is done separately and the only time the male and female are seen together is during the mating season and after mating each bird moves separately 
  • Silent: Shoebill storks are known to be silent birds and this helps them in capturing their prey as they hide silently and once the prey is seen, they jump once and grab it with their big shoe like a beak. However, in some cases, shoebills have been heard making some sounds and gestures such as moo, head bobbing, bill-clapping and high-pitched whining for communication
  • Patience: Shoebill storks exhibit a lot of patience. They can stage on a water body and any hideout waiting for their prey to feast on even if it means parading there for a full day, they will do it until they grab what to eat during the night. Actually they prefer eating at night when the sun goes down 

Shoebill Diet facts about shoebill stork

Shoe bill storks are known for largely depending on water mammals and Most of their prey include different fish species such as lung fish, catfish, eels, baby crocodiles and the reptiles and amphibians including water snakes, and frogs as long as it fits in its mouth and this is the main reason as to why they prefer inhabiting waterlogged environments where they use their own unique hunting techniques known as freeze and seize to obtain food for survival.

Movement facts about shoebill stork

Shoebill storks can walk on their two legs and can even fly with the help of their wide wings that stretch to 2.5 m during the flight as they move from one place to another. During their flight, they tend to move their heads backward in order to stay long in air and also use their large wings to maintain balance in the air 

Gestation period of the shoebill 

Shoebill stork lays between one to three eggs but usually, two which the parents try, by all means, to water them even in dry seasons, the shoebill collects water and pours it to the nest containing eggs to maintain the temperature levels until the eggs hatch into chicks within 30 days. After hatching, the shoebill chicks are fed by parents until they make 125 days and then is fledge to stay on its own.

Shoebill Stork Tours
Facts About Shoebill Stork

The life span of rare shoebill stork 

The fact is that shoebill stork lives longer as compared to other birds. The life span of a shoebill goes on between 35 -50 years 

Conclusion: Uganda still remains the best destination for birders interested in trekking the rare shoebill stork in Africa due to the fact that Uganda still harbors the largest populations of the rare shoebill that are worth a visit all year round since the climatic conditions of Uganda are average allowing bird breeding at any season.