The shoebill stork, also known as the whalebill or whale-headed stork, is a large bird that lives in tropical East Africa. It has a unique appearance due to its enormous shoe-shaped bill, which is used to catch fish in swamps and wetlands.

The shoebill is a tall bird, with a typical height range of 110 to 140 cm (43 to 55 in) and some specimens reaching as much as 152 cm (60 in). It has a somewhat stork-like overall form and has previously been classified with the storks in the order Ciconiiformes based on this morphology. However, genetic evidence places it with pelicans and herons in the Pelecaniformes.

The shoebill’s bill is not only used for catching fish but also for regulating its body temperature. The bill is filled with blood vessels that help the bird cool down when it gets too hot.

The shoebill is also known for its unique vocalizations, which include grunts, hisses, and clattering sounds.

Text © Earth Unreal

Photo credits:
Hjalmar Gislason

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