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Saddle-billed Storks (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) at Londolozi, South Africa

72 views 18 April 2021

At five feet tall, the Saddle-billed Stork is the tallest stork in the world, and certainly one of the most strikingly beautiful. It is a wading bird with black and white plumage and a long, laterally compressed bill. The head, back, neck, wings and tail are black, while the rest of the body and the primary flight feathers are a crisp white.

The bill has large red and black stripes, and the black legs have a red garter and red feet. There is a bright-yellow leathery saddle of skin at the top of the bill. Males have black eyes and are larger than the females, which have yellow eyes.

Saddle-billed Stork are territorial birds that live either on their own or in a pair. It is usually shy and a little recluse. These birds will not migrate, but may move territory in response to a shortage of habitat or food. When in flight, they extend their necks to full length, drooping their heads slightly under the weight of the bill. This gives them a rather unique appearance.