Saturday, March 12, 2011


Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Pelecaniformes
Family : Balaenicipitidae
Genus : Balaeniceps
Species : rex

Height : 45-60in (115-150cm)
Wingspan :125cm (260cm)

IUCN Status : Vulnerable

Today's bird isn't the most attractive fellow, but you certainly won't forget him! Shoebills are large wetlands-living birds that are related to Storks and can be found in East Africa.

Shoebills are also sometimes known as Whaleheads, and are named for their larged, patchy colored bill that resembles a shoe. Males are slightly taller and larger billed than the females, but both sexes are greyish-blue in color.

Shoebills are carnivores, and feed off of the reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals that live in their marshy habitats. They hunt by ambushing their prey, waiting patiently and then striking with rapid speed using their large, hooked beaks.

Pairs of Shoebills are monogamous, and breed at the start of the dry season. Nests that measure up to a meter in diameter are woven on the ground, and 1-3 eggs are laid. Chicks are cared for by both parents, but typically only one will survive from each brood. Shoebills are relatively long-lived, with some wild individuals reaching 36 years of age.

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