Yellow-billed Stork

(Mycteria ibis)
(also called Wood Stork, Wood Ibis)

Yellow-billed Stork

 

Status

Protected

Range

Africa south of Sahara and in Madagascar, making somewhat migratory patterns depending on the availability of food due to water levels.

Habitat

The stork is found in aquatic habitats with shallow lakes, lagoons and swamps. They are also found in areas where there are mud flats or meadows.

Description

The stork is considered a wading bird. They spend their days feeding or resting. They move slow and deliberately as they hunt for food in shallow water. They have a very fast muscle reflex in their necks that allows them to catch their prey in the water while moving. They also have been recorded as snapping their bills shut in just 0.025 seconds, a definite advantage in water hunting.

  • Their flocks are never very large, may mate in colonies. Often will congregate with other kinds of storks, or pelicans.
  • White plumage, sometimes with a pink tone. Colors intensify during breeding.
  • Wings are black
  • Short, black tail
  • Long, yellow bill that is down curved at the tip
  • Long, slender neck
  • Orange face
  • Long, thin legs that range from pink and red to white in color
  • Yellow-billed storks breed when food is abundant, usually near the end of rainy season, or in a dry season, when fish and frogs are more eaily caught in shallow pools
  • They move slowly and quietly

The yellow-billed stork is a quiet bird. During breeding season they make a hissing sound. The babies will beg for food with a braying sound. Adults may make a hollow banging sound with their bills. The storks travel in flocks.

Diet

The stork’s diet consists of frogs, fish, worms and aquatic insects. When hunting they use one leg to mess up the mud or water and get the prey to move from their resting place. Once the prey is moving, the stork, with its fast reflexes, is able to dunk its head into the water and catch the prey.

 

Yellow-billed stork

Predators

The yellow-billed storks have a few predators including cheetahs, leopards, lions and humans.

Lifecycle

The breeding cycle is near the end of the rainy season, depending on food availability. When mating, the female stork approaches the male. The male stork selects the nesting spot and together the male and female build the nest of sticks and debris. Most often, the nests are built in a tree, away from predators. It can take the pair several days to build the nest.

Once the female has laid her eggs (normally 2-3 eggs) the incubation period is about 30 days long. The eggs are laid on alternate days, so they also hatch accordingly. The babies remain in the nest for up to 55 days when the fledging period begins. The stork comes of breeding age at around 3 years old. The lifespan of a stork is about 19 years in captivity.

Interesting Facts about the Stork

  • They have one of the fastest swallowing reflexes known, enabling them to catch moving prey in water very quickly.
  • They can snap their beaks shut in just 0.025 seconds.
  • Storks will nest in groups in trees, sometimes with other species.
  • Storks regurgitate water over their babies to keep them cool, and to encourage water intake.
  • Smart birds, the storks will stand on one leg, and stir the water and mud with the other, disturbing their prey, and then catching it quickly as it moves.

 

Click here to read about the White Pelican.

 

 

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