True Facts about the Shoebill stork : The shoebill stork is a rare bird species that has increased numbers of tourists travelling most especially it is always on the top of the birders list. It is an interesting rare creature that is hard to sight see anywhere because it is always found in its inhabitants such the fresh swamps of the tropical African countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Western Tanzania, Eastern Congo, Northern Zambia and in South Sudan among others.

The shoebill stork is a unique bird species, which is a little prehistoric, and mean compared the other bird species in the same family and the following below are some of the facts that bird lovers need to know and may find interesting.

  • Habitant of a shoebill stork.

Shoebill storks are aquatic birds that are free and commonly found around freshwater swamps, which are situated in different countries such as; in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda, Northern parts of Zambia, and in the western Tanzania. However, birders can also be able to spot this bird species in areas like Malawi, the Northern Cameroon, Botswana, and Ethiopia. The shoebill stork has limited seasonal movements not like the other birds because of the avaibility of its food and disturbance by humans in the area.

Uganda is a best place for birders to visit due to the fact that it has a total number of 1000 shoebills and these can be easily spotted in areas like; Semliki wildlife reserve, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Nabajuzi swamp in masaka, Lake Mburo national park, queen Elizabeth National Park within the swamp situated in Ishasha sector, Bigodi swamp which is close to Kibale National Park, and in Mabamba swamp which is near Lake Victoria.

  • Life span of the shoebill stork.

Shoebill storks have a chance of living longer compared to other bird species.  Therefore, the shoebill’s life span goes between 35 to 50 years, True Facts about the Shoebill stork

  • Physical description.

The edges of the mandibles of the shoebill are very sharp and this helps them to tear their prey and be able to discard any vegetation after catching their prey. The Male shoebill stork is mainly grey in colour while the others are brown. More so, shoebill storks have long feet that reach 18cm and a height of 4 to 5 feet when standing and it has a weight of 5 kilograms while a female shoebill stork weighs 6 kilograms. The name of the shoebill stork was derived from its huge shoe-shaped beak or bill but it is also known to be referred to as the whale-headed or whale-headed stork.

  • Diet of the shoebill stork.

The shoebill stork has a unique technique of hunting for their prey and this is called ‘Freeze and Seize’. The diet of the shoebill stork mainly is comprised of water mammals such as; Mad fish, frogs, lungfish, baby crocodiles, catfish, tilapia, snails, water snakes, small waterfowl, eels, and even Nile monitors and many others.

True Facts about the Shoebill stork
Facts About Shoebill Stork
  • Gestation period of the shoebill stork.

The gestation period of the shoebill stork goes for 30 days and a female shoebill stork lays one to three eggs, which measure between 80, and 90 meters high weigh 164 grams and are 56 to 61 meters wide, it lays its eggs in a nest which measures 1 to 1.7 meters wide and can reach 3 meters deep. Once the chicks hatch, their parents take the responsibility of taking care of them until they are around 105 days when they are able to fledge and both parents always work together to build the nests on a floating platform. More so, these young shoebill storks reach their sexual maturity at an age of 3 years, True Facts about the Shoebill stork

  • Mannerisms/Behaviours of the shoebill stork.

Shoebill storks are known as solitary bird species and very peaceful because they love living alone. They are known as silent bird species and this behavior helps them to capture well their prey, as they tend to hide silently as a tecquinique of catching their prey. Once they see a prey, they jump once and grab it with their shoebill beak. However, the shoebill storks have been noticed making gestures and sounds such as Moo, bill-clapping, high-pitched whining, moo as their way of communicating.

The shoebill storks are also well known for their tendency to stay still for a long period of time, which leads them to being described as the ‘statue like’ species, and they are good at moving slow. Shoebill storks also have a habit of defecating on themselves which scientists believe that these species do so because they use their dropping to cool down the heat on their bodies and this has been confirmed as common behaviours among the shoebills.

More so, the shoebill storks have a tendency of doing their hunting’s separately and the only time one can sight see the male and female shoebills together is only in the mating season and after mating, both birds move separately. Lastly, shoebill storks often stand and perches on the floating vegetation in order to make itself look bigger, True Facts about the Shoebill stork

  • Movement facts about the shoebill stork.

Shoebill storks are able to fly in the air with the help of their wide wings, which stretch, to 2.5meters. During their flight in the air, they always move with their head backwards in order to stay longer in the air with the help of their large wings that support them to keep their balance, as they are able to move from one place to another.

  • Conservation status.

Large numbers of the shoebills live within the swamps of different countries such as; Uganda, the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and south Sudan. The International Union for conservation of Nature has considered the shoebill stork as an endangered bird.

Therefore, according to the International Union for conservation of nature, the estimated population of the shoebill storks that live within the wild is between 5,000 and 8,000 shoebills. However, unfortunately, the main threat to the survival of these shoebill storks include; poaching and the habitat loss due to the encroachment by humans staying around the wetlands.

Tourists interested in seeing the shoebill storks should book a Uganda birding safari with our trusted tour operators such as Achieve Global Safaris and Explore tours Rwanda and you will be given the best offers as you have high chances to sight see the rare shoebill stork.