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Yellow-billed Stork

Mycteria ibis

Family:

Ciconiidae, stork family

Conservation Status:

Least concern, IUCN

Distribution:

East Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Madagascar

Habitat:

Shallow lakes, mud flats, coastal lagoons and meadows

Factoid:

During the breeding season these storks display feathers with a tinge of the same pink color that can be seen in their relatives, the roseate spoonbills.

A large bird, with a pinkish-white body and black tail and flight feathers. The bill is heavy at the base, slender toward the tip and somewhat de-curved. It is bright yellow, contrasting with the bare, red face and forehead. The legs are long and thin. Females are slightly smaller than males. Flies with neck outstretched. Generally silent although adults engage in bill-clatter and young beg.

Yellow-billed storks have a remarkable adaptation. They are known to have the quickest muscular reflex of the neck allowing them a lightning-speed bill snap to secure their prey. Almost all of their food is caught in the water. These birds use a special feeding technique to help them catch more prey in the water. They typically use one foot to stir up the water or mud which disturbs and flushes out the prey. Then they submerge their heads quickly in the water, snapping their bills on their small prey. Yellow-billed stork bills are great fishing tools.

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