how big is a shoebill bird

Shoebill Stork Size and Facts – Explore Rwanda Tours

Size and Facts about the Shoebill Stork: The shoebill, also known as the whale head, whale-headed stork, or shoe-billed stork, is a large, stork-like bird. It takes its title from its massive shoe-shaped bill. Its general shape is somewhat stork-like, and because of this morphology, it was originally assigned to the order Ciconiiformes with storks.

how big is a shoebill bird

The aptly named shoebill is distinguished by its foot-long bill, which has the appearance of a Dutch clog. It has brown splotches on a tan background, sharp edges, and a sharp hook at the end. It is five inches broad. Because of its distinctive bill, the shoebill can capture large prey like snakes, tilapia, lungfish, and eels. It will even eat new-born crocodiles and Nile monitor lizards.

Shoebill Stork Size and Facts.

These details include the physical characteristics, diet, behaviors, lifespan, migrations, and habitats of the rare shoebill stork, as described in this article.

  • Comparing the Shoebill Stork to other bird species, it is a very large bird.

Shoebills Storks can reach heights of five feet and wingspan of eight feet. They have yellow eyes, grey feathers, white bellies, and a small feathered crest on the back of their heads. Additionally, they have large feet and long, thin legs that are ideal for walking on the vegetation in East Africa’s freshwater wetlands, which stretch from Ethiopia to South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia.

  • Physical Attributes of the Shoebill Stork.

Mouth: The shoebill stork gets its name from its shoe-shaped mouth and powerfully bent beak, which enable it to chop prey into small pieces for easy digestion.

Foot: The shoebill stork has a long foot that is similar in size to a human foot, measuring up to 18 cm.

The height: One of the tallest birds in the world, an adult shoebill stork can stand on two legs and reach a height of four to five feet.

Weight: A fully grown female shoebill typically weighs 11 pounds, or 5 6 kg, whereas a male shoebill weighs approximately 12 pounds, or 4 kg. 9 kilograms.

how big is a shoebill bird

  • Conservation Status of the Shoebill Stork.

There are an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 individuals in the population, most of whom reside in wetlands in South Sudan, Uganda, the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia. There is also a viable population in Tanzania’s Malagarasi wetlands. Birdlife International has classified it as Vulnerable, with habitat loss, disturbance, and hunting being the main threats. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) lists the Shoebill Stork as one of the endangered bird species.

  • Known Habitats of the Shoebill Stork.

Since they prefer to spend their time in hiding places and close to bodies of water, shoebill storks are both aquatic and nocturnal birds. Living near bodies of water and thick wetlands, the Shoebill stork has an ideal place to hide while on the lookout for food. Africa is home to a large population of shoebill storks due to their favorable environment. They can be found throughout Africa, but one of the best places to see them is in Uganda, where there are about a thousand shoebills that are easy to follow while on game drives, boat cruises, and birdwatching excursions.

Mabamba Swamp near Lake Victoria, Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park with the swamp in the Ishasha sector, Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Ziwa rhino Sanctuary, and Nabajuzi Swamp in the Masaka region are some of the best places to visit while on vacation. Actually, Uganda is a birder’s paradise, home to many rare and unusual bird species that are unique to this part of the globe.

In addition, there are wetland areas in Rwanda, Zambia, Sudan, Tanzania, eastern Congo, Cameroon, Botswana, and Kenya that provide ample food for shoebill storks, serve as good hiding places from predators, and serve as breeding grounds for the endangered rare shoebill stork, which prefers to build its nests in open marshes.

  • Reproductive Cycle of the Shoebill Stork.

Between the ages of three and four, shoebills reach adulthood, and breeding pairs are monogamous. But by nature, these birds are highly solitary, and even paired pairs will feed in different areas of their territory. Nests built by breeding pairs on floating vegetation or in the water can reach a width of eight feet. At the conclusion of the wet season, females lay two eggs on average.

Both birds care for the eggs and young as co-parents. Part of the job involves incubating and flipping eggs and cooling them with water carried to the nest in their large bills. Hatching takes roughly a month. The down on the chicks is bluish-gray, and their beaks are paler in color. Typically, only one chick survives to fledge.

  • What the Shoebill’s Diet Comprises?

Because shoee bill storks are known to rely primarily on aquatic mammals, they prefer to live in waterlogged environments where they can employ their own special hunting techniques. Their prey includes a variety of fish species, including lung fish, cat fish, eels, baby crocodiles, and amphibians and reptiles like water snakes and frogs.

  • Relationship between Humans and the Shoebill Stork.

This species is ranked among the top five most sought-after birds in Africa by birdwatchers. They don’t act in a threatening manner toward people and are kind to them. Researchers observed a bird on its nest up close—within two meters, or six feet and seven inches.

Because shoebills can stay motionless for hours at a time, a defenseless lungfish may not notice this menacing bird that resembles a dinosaur until it is too late. The birds hunt by “collapsing,” which involves them lunging or falling forward on their prey.

Taxonomy edit Molecular studies have found the

Although the Ancient Egyptians may have known about the shoebill[3], it wasn’t until the 19th century that it was officially classified, following the introduction of live specimens and their skins to Europe. In 1850, John Gould provided a brief description of it based on the skin of a specimen that English traveler Mansfield Parkyns had collected on the upper White Nile. Gould provided a more detailed description in the following year. He gave the species the binomial name Balaeniceps rex and placed it in the genus Balaeniceps. The words “whale” (balaena) and “head” (caput), which are compound words that are abbreviated to -ceps, are the source of the genus name [4][5][6]. [7] Other common names include shoe-billed stork, whale-headed stork, and whalebill. [8] [9].

Though historically associated with the storks (Ciconiiformes), it remained so in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, which combined a vast array of unrelated taxa under the umbrella of “Ciconiiformes.” Patricia Cottam proposed a pelecaniform affinity in 1957 based on osteological evidence. [10] Konstantin Mikhailov’s microscopic examination of the eggshell structure in 1995 revealed that shoebills’ crystalline shells shared a thick layer of microglobular material with those of other Pelecaniformes. [11] The shoebill was once more proposed in 2003 to be more closely related to herons (based on biochemical evidence) or pelicans (based on anatomical comparisons)[12]. [13] A 2008 DNA analysis confirms that they belong in the Pelecaniformes. [14].

Thus far, two fossilized shoebill relatives have been described: Paludavis from Egypt’s Early Miocene and Goliathia from its Early Oligocene. There is conflicting evidence to support the theory that the mysterious African fossil bird Eremopezus was also related. Eremopezus was a very large bird that was likely incapable of flying but had flexible feet that allowed it to handle both vegetation and prey. That is all that is known about it.

Diet edit

The shoebill’s large bill, wide gape, and sharp-edged beak allow it to hunt large prey, frequently larger than that which other large wading birds would take. Fish that fall into this species’ diet typically measure between 15 and 50 centimeters (5 9 to 19. 7 in). [25] Clarias gariepinus, a type of catfish, was the primary prey that the parents fed their young. C. mossambicus) and water snakes that are 50–60 cm (20–24 in) long. [23] In Uganda, the young were primarily fed lungfish and catfish. [15] In the Malagarasi wetlands in western Tanzania, larger lungfish and catfish were caught. Fish measuring 60 to 80 cm (24 to 31 in) were commonly taken during this study, and the largest fish the shoebill caught was 99 cm long. Fish bigger than 60 cm were typically divided into sections and periodically swallowed. Depending on the size of the prey, the total time from scooping to swallowing varied from two to thirty minutes. However, the African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), which regularly steals large wading birds prey, frequently targets these large prey because they are relatively difficult to handle. [21].


Can a shoebill fly?

Couple that with an enormous wingspan of almost eight feet, and no wonder shoebills have an intimidating reputation. They aren’t very heavy, though, only weighing up to 16 pounds, and they can and do fly. But they only flap those big wings about 150 times per minute, one of the slowest rates of any bird.

Is a shoebill a pelican?

Shoebills are in a family all their own, though they were once classified as storks. They do share traits with storks and herons, like the long necks and legs characteristic of wading birds, though their closest relatives are the pelicans.

How tall is a shoebill in feet?

The shoebill is an extremely tall bird, with long spindly legs, that allows it to stand in the shallows of swamps and on aquatic vegetation, while hunting for food. The shoebill averages between 3.5 – 4.5 feet (1 – 1.4 meters) in height, and weighs between 9 – 15.5 pounds (4 – 7 kg).

Can you have shoebill as a pet?

Shoebill Stork is on the endangered species list, making it illegal to own one. According to The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, there are only an estimated 3,300 to 5,300 adult Shoebills remaining in the world.