Marabou Stork

Marabou Stork

Birds

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: marabou stork
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Ciconiiformes
FAMILY: Ciconiidae
GENUS SPECIES: Leptoptilos (slender wing) crumeniferus (referring to the throat pouch)

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Marabou storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with a long, bare throat sac.
SIZE: Approximately 150 cm (59 in.)
WEIGHT: Up to 9 kg (20 lb)
DIET: Feeds on insects, baby crocodiles, flamingos, small mammals, fish and carrion
INCUBATION: 30-50 days
CLUTCH SIZE 3-5 eggs
SEXUAL MATURITY: 4-5 years
LIFE SPAN: Up to 20 years in zoos; wild life span not known
RANGE: Throughout Africa into some parts of Asia and Europe
HABITAT: Found in marshes, savannas and fields
POPULATION: GLOBAL Unknown
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. In addition to hollow leg bones, marabou storks have hollow toe bones. In such a large bird, this is an important adaptation for flight.
2. Marabou storks are attracted to grass fires. They march in front of the advancing fire grabbing animals that are fleeing.
3. The pouch on their throat is not used for food storage; it is more likely used in courtship.
4. Marabous get much of their food through scavenging. They are attracted to lion kills, domestic stockyards, plowed fields, and rubbish piles.
5. Marabous nest in the dry season when carrion and evaporating pools that contain the natural prey necessary to raise their young are available.
6. These storks need to eat more than 700 g (1.6 lbs) of food a day.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Marabous, as well as many other storks and vultures, consume parts of rotting carcasses. They also break through thick hides of large, deceased mammals with their powerful beak. This helps to speed up the decomposition process and allows for other weaker scavengers to have access to the carcass. In addition, they are important predators, frequently seen standing on termite mounds ingesting swarming insects. In turn, these birds themselves are prey for large carnivores.

The Association of American Zoos and Aquariums recognizes Busch Gardens Tampa Bay as the first to successfully breed this species.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. Poole, Dorst: Blandford Press, 1981.

Perrins, Dr. Christopher. Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World. New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. 1979.

Perrins, Dr. Christopher M. And Dr. Alex L.A. Middleton, eds. The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File Pub. 1985.

Perrins, Dr. Christopher M. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World. New York: Prentice Hall Press. 1990.