A list of my favorite images of shoebills.
The shoebill (Balaeniceps rex), also known as whalehead or shoe-billed stork, is a very large stork-like bird.
It derives its name from its massive shoe-shaped bill. Although it has a somewhat stork-like overall form and has previously been classified in the order Ciconiiformes, its true affiliations with other living birds is ambiguous. Some authorities now reclassify it with the Pelecaniformes.
The adult is mainly grey while the juveniles are browner. It lives in tropical east Africa in large swamps from Sudan to Zambia.
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).
Length from tail to beak can range from 100 to 140 cm (39 to 55 in) and wingspan is 230 to 260 cm (7 ft 7 in to 8 ft 6 in).
The signature feature of the species is its huge, bulbous bill, which is straw-coloured with erratic greyish markings.
The sharp edges in the mandibles help the shoebill to decapitate their prey and also to discard any vegetation after prey has been caught.
The plumage of adult birds is blue-grey with darker slaty-grey flight feathers. The breast presents some elongated feathers, which have dark shafts. The juvenile has a similar plumage colour, but is a darker grey with a brown tinge.
When they are first born, shoebills have a more modestly-sized bill, which is initially silvery-grey. The bill becomes more noticeably large when the chicks are 23 days old and becomes well developed by 43 days.
The wings are broad, with a wing chord length of 58.8 to 78 cm (23.1 to 30.7 in), and well-adapted to soaring.
The shoebill occurs in extensive, dense freshwater marshes. More rarely, the species has been seen foraging in rice fields and flooded plantations.
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