|Common Name||Whalehead or Shoe-billed Stork.|
The Shoebill is a species from the Balaeniceps genus.
Shoebills are very large stork-like birds with the adults being 115–150 cm (45–60 inches) tall, with a length ranging anywhere from 100 to 140 cm (40–55 inches). Their wings are very powerful and have a span of 230–260 cm (91–125 inches). Shoebills weigh from 4 up to 7 kg (8.8-15.5 pounds). Their beak is, as mentioned before, is shoe-shaped, tan in color and many times accompanied by dark blotches. It has an average length of 30 cm (12 inches) featuring a major hook at the tip. Their legs are long and skinny. Legs are long and skinny, a typical trait among wading birds. Shoebills in captivity have been reported to live more than 30 years and it is believed that they can potentially exceed 50 years of age under optimal conditions.
Adult shoebills are predominantly grey in color, with a few white tufts in the back of their head (see image below). Young individuals are typically browner.
Males and females are pretty much similar in color and appearance, with the main difference being that males are slightly larger and have longer bills.
Shoebills are carnivorous birds, usually hunting in swallow, muddy waters with their favorite spots being waters that have little oxygen. In these waters fish have to surface more often and as a result hunting becomes much easier.
Their most common prey is primarily lungfish, nevertheless they consume a large variety of animals including baby crocodiles, frogs, water snakes, rats, etc. Usually shoebills hunt during the night. They remain motionless, as herons, waiting for their prey and once it appears they attack with speed, power and precision. Their hooked bill allows them to easily grasp the prey out of the water.
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