Something common about the birds from the stork family is their height and slow pace. A saddle billed stork is from the Ciconiidae family and a resident breeder from Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. This bird is related to the culture of ancient Egypt as Pharaoh who was a king to Egypt incorporated the phonetic vowel “b” in his name Kaba to represent that bird. These birds prefer habitants that are near to water areas due to the fact that they feed on water creatures. They are also unique considering the fact that they are carnivorous birds and feed on fish, frogs, crabs, water beetles, among other water creatures.
These creatures are endangered especially in South Africa and considered to have the least population concern emerging as a result of urbanization, encroaching on wetlands, use of pesticides among other damages caused on water bodies.
Unique features of a saddle-billed stork
Tallest stork in the world
They have longer and more slender necks and longer legs than all the other stork birds making them the largest and tallest type of their family and in the world. They usually attain a height of 150 -180 cm, a mean mass of 6.84kg and extremely long legs that measure about 36.5 cm that is almost five feet tall but surprisingly it’s not the heaviest of the stork family. Not only are the legs and neck long but the beak has a length of 27.3- 36 cm long which is almost as long as the legs.
Saddle billed storks don’t have vocal organs of birds hence they cannot whistle, sing or warble which is an attribute to most of the birds. However, as it is always that young ones seek for adult attention, chicks hiss when they seeking their parents’ attention.
It sounds shocking that these birds eat flesh of other creatures but to get to the other side, it’s obvious considering their habitant which are places close to water. They enjoy all types of water creatures like crabs, shrimps, fish and small reptiles like lizards, salamanders other water species like water beetles, mollusks among others.it is also fascinating the way these creatures first wash their fish in water before consuming them also their long beaks facilitate and act like fishing equipment even in deep waters.
Live close to water
Because apples don’t fall far from the tree, these birds also nest closer to water bodies so that they can easily catch a food for themselves and chicks for that reason they live along wetlands, swamps, lakes and other water bodies and nest in trees or forests that are close to water areas.
Sheepish and solitary birds
Often birds are seen moving together in groups but a saddle billed stork is either a loner or can stay as a pair with another bird since they are monogamous and form permanent bonds, also on rare occasions they can be seen in groups of about 10- 12 birds of their kind.
Same nest every breeding season
The fact that saddle-billed storks are shy birds, they tend to stay in one place for a very long period of time unlike other birds that migrate. Also, they don’t have a lot of showy courtship displays which makes them stay in the same area for long. Their breeding season begins in the dry season and they will rest assured if they construct their homes in tree tops that are close to water bodies.
The exterior and interior walls of their nests are different.
These birds not only such for strategic places for their nests but also ensure that they are very strong the fact that they spend in one place for a long period of time. A saying that goes like two hands are better than one is evident in these birds because both the adult storks highly engage in constructing their nest. The nests are constructed in very tall tree to avoid any threats and disturbances, the exterior walls are built using sticks, the interior walls have a mud plaster and the lining is made of soft material like grass.
Breeding and parenting the baby storks
Each breeding period the female stork lays two or three eggs that weigh around 146g. The incubation period is around 30-35 days and both parents sit on the nest to incubate the eggs. Also, both the male and female stork feed their babies for 70-100 days after they have hatched. The young storks live close to their parents for one or two years till the next breeding season which doesn’t occur each year.
Live long in captivity
These birds are usually loners and tend to stay in isolated places. Sometimes different creatures don’t tend to survive with such environment but its different for saddle billed stork because they can live for about 19 years in captivity and 12 years only if they are leaving in the wild. The highest life span recorded for a saddle billed stork living in captivity is thirty years.
Their sexual dimorphism is in their eyes
Every creature has a dimorphic way of distinguishing between the male and female species, which is usually the breast for most mammals hence the female stork is also 10- 15 % smaller than the male saddle billed stork and also as usual females have attractive colors evidenced by the fact that the eyes of the female stork are yellow and a male has dark brown eyes.
Africa’s bright colored bird
This bird should be a strong patriot to a particular African country because its beak has red with a black bang in the middle and yellow on the upper side which colors make up the Ugandan flag in particular. Its legs are black with red bands around the joints on their feet, the neck, tail, feathers and head are also black but with some green color. Its skin is white with a featherless red patch of the skin that darkens during the breeding season. It has over 5 colors on its body making it a lovely and attractive bird.
Widely spread in Africa.
The African continent has a favorable weather condition and vast water bodies making it easier for these birds to settle anywhere. It is found in the Pearl of Africa in Semuliki, Murchison falls, Kazinga channel, Lake Mburo and other countries like Ethiopia, Sudan Egypt among others.
Uganda is considered to be the best birding country in Africa because of the various bird species and the birding site it possesses and more effort is being put into conserving the natural environment on which these creatures use as a habitant to minimize on endangering them and depleting them because they not only attract tourist but conserve the nature as well.