Marabou stork

Common Name: Marabou stork

Scientific Name: Leptoptilos crumeniferus

Marabou storks often feed and roost in groups of up to 1000.

They have enormous bills which may grow up to 35cm long.

The head and neck of these birds is mainly bald so that their feathers don’t get covered in blood when they are foraging and eating.

Marabou storks have big, rounded air-sacs, one hanging from their throat and one on their upper back. These help them to cool down.

These storks also keep cool by deliberately defecating on their legs! As the moisture from this mixture evaporates it helps them to cool down.

Fast Facts

  • Status

    Least Concern

  • Size

    Height: 115–152 cm; wingspan: 225–287 cm. Males are generally larger than females.

  • Weight

    4 - 8.9 kg

  • Gestation

    29-31 days

  • Young

    1-4 eggs are laid

  • Life span

    Over 25 years

In the wild

Marabou storks are opportunistic feeders and eat a wide variety of foods including carrion and food waste left by people. They are often seen foraging at rubbish dumps and abattoirs. They also prey on a broad range of animals including fish, insects, frogs, lizards, snakes, rats, mice and birds. They have even been known to catch adult flamingos!

This species is found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, including in Senegal, Ethiopia, Namibia and South Africa. Marabou storks live in a variety of habitats, including savannahs, swamps, riverbanks, and lake shores.

Marabou storks nest in groups with other marabous and other species of stork. They may nest in colonies which may vary in size from 20 to thousands of pairs. They usually build their nests about 10 to 30m high in trees, but also on cliffs and on buildings in towns. Their nests are about 1m wide and are made of sticks and lined with twigs and green leaves. Chicks fledge at between 95 and 115 days of age.

There are no conservation measures currently in place for marabou storks, because they have a large population which appears to be increasing in size.

Meet Marwell's Marabou stork

Meet Marwell's Marabou stork

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