Marabou Stork

Marabou Stork

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 lbs.)
Diet
Their diet consists predominantly of carrion, fish, termites, locusts, frogs, lizards, baby crocodiles, snakes, rats, mice and birds.
Incubation
30 to 50 days
Clutch Size
3 to 5 eggs
Sexual Maturity
4 to 5 years
Life Span
Up to 20 years in zoos; lifespan in the wild is unknown
Range
 These storks have an extremely large range and can be found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
Habitat
 Inhabits open dry savannas, grasslands, swamps, riverbanks, lake shores and receding pools where fish are concentrated.
Population
Global: The total population size is very large with at least 10,000 mature individuals. The population appears to be increasing and is not severely fragmented.
Status 
IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS:  Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Marabou storks possess hollow leg and toe bones. In such a large bird, this is an important adaptation for flight.
  2. Marabou storks are attracted to grass fires and will march in front of the advancing fire to grab any fleeing animals.
  3. The pouch on their throat is not used for food storage and may be used during courtship.
  4. Marabous get much of their food through scavenging. They are attracted to lion kills, domestic stockyards, plowed fields, and rubbish piles.
  5. These storks may associate with herds of large mammals in order to catch insects disturbed by their movements.
  6. Marabou storks nest in the dry season when carrion and evaporating pools that contain the natural prey necessary to raise their young are available.
  7. These storks need to eat more than 700 g (1.6 lbs.) of food a day.
  8. These birds have been known to feed on adult flamingoes.

Ecology and Conservation

Marabou storks are known to consume carrion. They break through the 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.

This species is hunted and traded at traditional medicine markets in Nigeria.

The Association of  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.

BirdLife International. 2016. Leptoptilos crumenifer. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697716A93633034.http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22697716A93633034.en/. Downloaded on 21 November 2018.