Stork, Saddle-billed

Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis

Head shot of a saddle-billed stork

A very tall black and white wading bird with a huge red and black banded bill and distinctive yellow shield. In flight its head and legs droop below the rest of its body giving it a very distinct appearance. Found along large rivers, freshwater marshes, floodplains and other water bodies.

conservation status : Least concern
height : 1.5 m
weight : 5 to 7 kg
wing span : 2.7 m
life span : 12 years
clutch : 2 to 4 eggs
incubation : 30 to 35 days

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The adult saddle-billed stork will eat its own the eggs shells after the young have hatched.

A saddle-billed stork can swallow a 500g catfish but it will first snip off the spines so the fish does not get caught in its throat.

Saddle-billed storks sometimes regurgitate up to 1 to 2 litres of water over the nest and eggs.

Before eating fish or frogs the saddle-billed stork will sometimes wash them.

The female saddle-billed stork can be told apart from the male because she has a yellow eye. Some people remember this by thinking of it as a gold wedding ring.

Saddle-billed storks pair for life, this may be why they don’t have colourful breeding plumage or spectacular courtship displays.