Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Yellow-Billed Stork

The yellow-billed stork is very closely related to the American woodstork (which I've previously blogged on here, here and here), the milky stork (found in Southeast Asia) and the painted stork (found in tropical Asia south of the Himalayas in the Indian Subcontinent). In fact, these four species belong in a clade, which is a group consisting of a common ancestor and all its lineal descendants. 

The yellow-billed stork is found in Africa south of the Sahara, as well as in Madagascar. It is found primarily in Eastern Africa, but is widely distributed from Senegal and Somalia down to South Africa. It is primarily white, but has a short black tail glossed green and purple when freshly moulted, a yellow bill, red skin on its face and forehead and brown legs. 
The back wing feathers on these flying yellow-billed storks is glossy green. 
In the Okavango Delta with some Egyptian geese. These appear to be juveniles as the color is more grayish/white and the reddish skin is not as extensive on the face. 
During breeding season, the plumage turns pink on the upperwings and back, the legs turn bright pink, the face is a deeper red and the bill a deeper yellow. It primarily breeds in Kenya and Tanzania, but has been found to breed in some other areas, including northern Botswana and Zimbabwe. 
This stork, on the Zambezi River, shows the mating characteristics of pink legs, pink plumage on the upperwings and a deeply yellow bill (radiating in the beautiful late afternoon light). 
We saw yellow-billed storks while riding a boat in the Okavango Delta of Botswana and while riding a large boat on the Upper Zambezi River near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. 
Flying in the Okavango Delta. 
Of note, they have been observed following moving crocodiles and hippos and feed behind them, eating the organisms churned up by them. 
Behind a crocodile in the Okavango Delta. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, some of these pictures are really spectacular. I love that red band above their beak and around their eyes, but it is prettier at a distance than close up, isn't it?