The Saddle-Billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) is the largest African stork, with a height of 1.8 metres (six feet) and a wingspan of 2.7 metres (9 feet).
It has striking colours with an iridescent black head, neck, back, wings, and tail. The rest of the body and primary flight feathers are white.
The long beak (bill) is red with a black band and a yellow shield, which is called the saddle (like a horse saddle). They have black legs and feet with pink knees.
Males have black eyes and females have yellow eyes.
The Saddle-Billed Stork is found in tropical Africa, where there is water, such as marshes, rivers, lakes and grasslands.
They are waders – birds that wade in water. They eat frogs, fish, crabs, mollusks, lizards, grasshoppers, and young birds.
Saddle-Billed Storks do not make a sound. They do not have a syrinx in their voice box. Instead of making a sound with their throat, they rattle their bills to communicate.
They do not migrate – they are territorial birds. They live either on their own or in a pair. When they fly, they extend their necks to full length.
Female Saddle-billed Storks lay one to two eggs, which take 30-35 days to hatch. Both the male and female storks take turns looking after the young birds until they are fledged (they can fly), which is about 70-100 days after hatching.
Their life expectancy is about 30 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM