5 outstanding facts about the amazing shoebill
This extremely large bird resembles a cross between a pelican, a stork and a dinosaur. Not only does the shoebill have an intimidating look, this creature can really stand up for itself. Let's learn more about this terrifying yet gorgeous bird.
Some quick shoebill facts:
- they are endemic to the swamps of Eastern Africa;
- they feed on fish, frogs, snakes and baby crocodiles;
- shoebills are classified as vulnerable: they suffer from habitat loss, hunting and capture for the zoo trade;
- in the wild, they can live up to 25-30 years.
#1 An adult shoebill stands around 1.1 to 1.4 meters (3.6 to 4.5 ft) tall
The tallest recorded individuals reached the height of around 1.5 meters (almost 5 feet)! Despite their large size, shoebills have light bones and weigh between 4 and 7 kg (9 to 15 lbs).
#2 To carry their enormous bodies, shoebills have incredibly large wings
The shoebill's wingspan can reach 2.5 meters (8 feet). Such wings are great for soaring, and the shoebill flaps them only around 150 times per minute, which is one of the slowest flapping rates of the avian kingdom. Shoebills usually don't fly far.
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#3 Their bills with sharp edges are deadly tools
This shoe-shaped bill may look funny or ridiculous, but it's actually a lethal weapon. While hunting, shoebills act very cruelly. They can stay still in the swamp for long periods, for which they are often compared to statues. When the prey is ambushed and taken into the bill, the shoebill decapitates it and swallows the rest of the body.
#4 They only raise the strongest chick
Shoebills are monogamous birds which live in breeding pairs. Though more than one chick is hatched at a time, the shoebills will raise only the strongest one, which is usually the eldest. The chicks start fighting each other very early to be selected.
#5 Being widely known as the 'shoebill stork', the shoebill belongs to the same order as pelicans, not storks
The hamerkop, another very strangely looking bird, is the closest relative of the shoebill.
What does the shoebill sound like? Find out with this video:
The bird makes very few noises and is silent most of the time.
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