This thread is about Marabou Storks only. If you have any photos of or interesting information about Marabou Storks you can post it here. Maybe you have made an interesting observation while watching Marabou Storks in one of the SANParks that you want to share with the rest of us; this is the place to do it.
Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus)
Marabou Storks next to a low water bridge close to Skukuza
French: Marabout d'Afrique, Marabout africain
Dutch: Afrikaanse Maraboe
: 4–8.9 kg
: 115–152 cm
: Tropical Africa. Lives on savannahs, in marshy areas and along rivers and lakes.
: 4 years
: 29–31 days
Number of eggs per clutch
: 1–4, usually 2–3
: Carrion, fish, termites, frogs, rats, mice, snakes, birds – as big as juvenile flamingos
: 25 years in the wild, 41 years in captivity.
“To the casual observer the massive Marabou Stork with its balding, scabby head and pendulous pink air sac may appear to be one of the ugliest creatures in the world. If this same observer were to notice the Marabou's fondness for carrion and its habit of squirting excrement onto its own legs he or she would probably consider the original opinion to be justified. It takes a real bird lover to see past all of this stork's bizarre adornments to recognize the scruffy charm underneath.”
(Smithsonian fact sheet
The Marabou Stork is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in Africa south of the Sahara, occurring in both wet and arid habitats, often near human habitation, especially waste tips.
A large male Marabou Stork, standing up to 1.5 m tall and weighing nearly 9 kg, is one of the largest flying birds in the world. Its 3.2 m (10.5 ft) wingspan means that it shares the distinction of having the largest wingspan of any landbird with the Andean Condor. Females are generally smaller. Unlike most storks Marabous fly with the neck retracted like a heron.
The Marabou is unmistakable due to its size, bare head and neck, black back, and white underparts. It has a huge bill, a pink gular sack at its throat, a neck ruff, and black legs and wings. The sexes are alike, but the young bird is browner and has a smaller bill. Full maturity is not reached for up to four years.
Marabou Storks will eat just about any kind of animal, dead or alive. Living prey includes termites, fish, locusts, grasshoppers, army-worm caterpillars, frogs, rodents, crocodile eggs and hatchlings, quelea nestlings, doves, young and adult flamingos, cormorant nestlings, and pelican chicks.
Marabous evolved their naked heads and necks as an adaptation for feeding on large animal carcasses without getting their head feathers soiled with blood and gore. More than 200 Marabous were seen feeding on a single elephant carcass in Kruger National Park. They rely on vultures and other scavengers to open the tough outer hides and then use their cleaver-like bills to retrieve and then swallow surprisingly large pieces of meat. They are not above stealing morsels from other smaller scavengers.
Also see the detailed information posted by DQ below