Interesting Facts About Shoebill: “Statue-Like” Bird

It seems that with each passing day scientists publish some report that says dinosaurs and birds had a lot in common physically. For some people, that might make dinosaurs seem less intimidating, but smart folks realize that it should make birds a lot scarier.
If you’re one of those people who’s continuously disheartened by the fact that scientists are consistently reporting that dinosaurs were basically just giant chickens, then you need only take a gander at the elusive shoebill stork.
The shoebill murder bird is native to the marshes of East Africa… and your nightmares. This masterful hunter (and endangered species) is a reclusive killer who is a menace to the inhabitants of the lands it occupies. If you want to understand just how bone-chillingly terrifying nature can be, just step inside the world of the shoebill stork—the scariest bird you’d never want to encounter.
Shoebill is a type of bird that cannot be easily classified. The reason lays in the fact that shoebill has features that are characteristic for genetically unrelated types of birds such as storks, pelicans, hamerkop and herons.
Shoebill is also known as Whale-head or Shoe-billed Stork. This beautiful bird can be found only in eastern parts of Africa, all the way from Sudan to Zambia. Shoebill prefers life in tropical dense marshes, swamps and wetlands. Shoebill is listed as vulnerable species, with no more than 8000 birds left in the wild. Number of shoebill is decreased due to habitat loss, destruction of nests, increased hunting and because of the pet trade.
Do you want to know more about this bird? Here are some interesting facts about shoebill:
1. Shoebill is “quiet” most of the time, but it can produce sound that is used for communication. Adult birds usually produce sounds by clapping the bills during nesting season. Young birds can produce hiccup-like sound when they are hungry.
2. Shoebill feeds during the night. It is an ambush predator, which can stay silent for very long period of time while waiting for the prey to appear. Because of that, it is often called “statue-like” bird.
3. When shoebill detects the prey, it uses incredible speed, accuracy and power to catch it. Before swallowing, shoebill with cut the prey in half with its sharp bill.
4. While the shoebill is called a stork, genetically speaking it is more closely related to the pelican or heron families. They have the same little crest on the back of their head and both have a prehensile prickly tongue which they use to hold and pull food into their bill. The large bill is also similar in both birds with a hook or tooth at the tip.
5. Shoebills rarely raise more than one chick. The youngest chick is known to be“insurance” in case the oldest one doesn’t make it. The sinister sibling rivalry becomes apparent when the mother leaves to fetch water and the oldest chick attacks its younger sibling often drawing blood. With limited food supply, the mother favours the eldest ensuring one of its young survives.
6. A shoebill often benefit from living alongside hippos. These huge amphibious mammals bulldoze channels through papyrus swamps, allowing shoebills access to otherwise inaccessible feeding areas. They also force fish to the surface, making them easier for the bird to capture.
7. Shoebill birds are masters of patience. They’ll sit in the water for hours on end, sometimes submerged up to their waists, as the creepy crawlies swim around them, poor buggers unaware of the grim fate that peers down at them from above.
Then, suddenly, the shoebill will lunge forward, driving its razor sharp bill into the silt, totally engulfing its victim (along with a bunch of dirt, water, and kelp). The shoebill clamps down, lifts its giant head, and starts swinging its bill back and forth, sifting out the crap it doesn’t want to actually eat before dining.

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