Scientific Name: Leptoptilos crumeniferus
English: Marabou Stork
Marabou Storks are one of the heaviest birds that can fly. Their wingspan reaches 2.8 metres. At Tenikwa guests love to interact with Earl and Edwina, our hand-raised Marabou Storks, whose comical antics will keep you amused for hours.
Marabous have hollow legs and hollow toes in order to make themselves lighter to fly. They are masters at using wind currents to thermal at great heights.
Habitat: Marabou prefer dry open savannahs near large lakes or rivers. Marabous are often found around fishing villages, slaughterhouses and rubbish dumps.
Distribution: The Marabou Stork is found throughout most of tropical Africa .
This is a huge, un-missable and unmistakable stork. Marabou are scavengers and can be found around refuse dumps as well as with vultures around carcasses. However they don't rely solely on scavenging, they will catch small rodents and reptiles. Airborne, the Marabou are superb flyers, soaring at high altitude across the plains.
Size: 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. Their wingspan approaches 2.9 m.
Diet Description: 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.
Reproduction: The female lays 2-3 chalky white eggs. Both parents incubate for 29-31 days. Chicks grow rapidly in the first few weeks of life as their parents keep them constantly supplied with food regurgitated onto the floor of the nest. The pre-fledging period, 95-115 days, is relatively long in this species. Most birds reach sexual maturity in their fourth year and may live for more than 25 years.
- In addition to hollow leg bones, marabou storks have hollow toe bones. In such a large bird, this is an important adaptation for flight.
- Marabou storks are attracted to grass fires. They march in front of the advancing fire grabbing animals that are fleeing.
- The pouch on their throat is not used for food storage; it is more likely used in courtship.
- Marabous get much of their food through scavenging. They are attracted to lion kills, domestic stockyards, plowed fields, and rubbish piles.
- Marabous nest in the dry season when carrion and evaporating pools that contain the natural prey necessary to raise their young are available.
- These storks need to eat more than 700 g (1.6 lbs) of food a day.