Sunday, June 10, 2018

Saddle-Billed Stork

Leaving Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe to make our way home, our guide spotted a stork sitting on a small island in a water hole. My pulse quickened as I recognized the incredible black and red bill with a yellow splotch on the fore-bill (the saddle) I'd seen in a photo just the night before in the book, Southern African Wildlife, I purchased for the trip. It described it as "uncommon but conspicuous" in Southern Africa. 
It is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, from Gambia, Senegal, Cote d' Ivoire and Chad in West Africa, and Sudan and Ethiopia in East Africa, to South Africa. 

It may be the tallest of the storks. The head, neck, back, wings and tail are all iridescent black and most of the rest of the body is white. The bill is red with a black band and has a yellow shield or saddle. The legs and feet are black with pink hocks. The chest has a bare patch of red skin that darkens during breeding season. 
The red patch on the chest is visible in this photo. 
The yellow saddle is pronounced in this photo. 

1 comment:

  1. It's always exciting when you see something considered to be rare, isn't it? He was definitely conspicuous--and beautiful.