Saddle-billed Stork

The Saddle-billed Stork, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, also known as the Jabiru Stork, is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It is a widespread species which breeds in sub-Saharan Africa from Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya south to South Africa as well as the Gambia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad in West Africa. It breeds in marshy wetlands in tropical lowland.

The Saddle-billed Stork is generally 59 inches tall and has a wingspan of about 106 inches. Females are distinctly smaller than the males. The head, neck, wings, and tail are iridescent black, with the rest of the body white. The massive bill is red with a black band and a yellow frontal shield (the “saddle”). The legs and feet are black with pink knees.

It builds a large, deep stick nest in a tree, laying one or two white eggs. The incubation period is 30-35 days, with another 70 – 100 days before the chicks fledge. Like most of its relatives, the Saddle-billed Stork feeds mainly on fish, frogs and crabs, but also on young birds, and other land vertebrates. They move in a deliberate and stately manner as they hunt, in a similar way to the larger herons.