Saturday, July 26, 2014

Marabou Stork

The marabou stork is an ungainly, ugly bird sometimes aptly known as the "undertaker bird" because of its cloak-like wings and back, and skinny white legs. 
Marabou stork in Serengeti NP.
The fact that it is often found following vultures and feeding on carrion further enhances that image.  
Marabou stork at a kill site with two Ruppell's vultures in Serengeti NP. Photo by Esmee Tooke.
It has a naked red head and pink neck sparsely covered in down, glossy green/black/slaty back and wings, white underparts, a pink gular sac (featherless skin that joins the bill to the neck), a neck ruff and black legs, white with excrement. 
On tree in Nairobi. Gular sac is particularly noticeable. Photo by John Mirau.
In Nairobi.
In Nairobi
It can get up to five feet high and 20 pounds and has one of the largest wingspans of any bird, just a little short of the Andean condor and some of the large albatrosses. 
In Nairobi. Photo by Esmee Tooke
Nairobi. Photo by Esmee Tooke.
It is found in much of sub-Saharan Africa, except portions of southeast and southern Africa, areas that are primarily rain forests and deserts. 
In Nakuru NP near a cape buffalo.
In Shaba NR along the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro River.
The naked head and neck are adaptations to its scavenging on carrion, garbage and feces. In many areas they have become dependent on human garbage and will be found near garbage dumps and urban areas. There is a sizable population in Nairobi, nesting in the tree tops on the main streets and outside our hotel windows.  
Outside hotel window in Nairobi. Photo by Esmee Tooke.

1 comment:

  1. While not as pretty or elegant as the storks we saw along the Rhine,I love these vulture storks, equally at home in the big city and on the savannah.