The Yellow-Billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) is a large wading wetlands bird from sub-Saharan Africa (mainly East Africa) and Madagascar. Although its scientific name is Mycteria ibis, it is not an ibis.
It is white with a short black tail and a deep yellow beak (bill), which is slightly decurved at the end. Its face and forehead has deep red skin and its legs are pink.
The Yellow-Billed Stork wades in shallow water with high-steps. It is a medium-sized wader, growing to 90–105 centimetres (35–41 inches) tall.
The Yellow-Billed Stork can dive from high altitudes, an even do acrobatics in mid-air. It can dive to catch fish to eat, but it usually catches fish by wading in the water, and feeling for their prey (rather than by vision). It also eats crabs, prawns, worms, insects and frogs.
This species is generally non-vocal, which means that it does not make a noise, except for a few screams in the breeding season.
The Yellow-Billed Stork breed colonially – in a colony with other Yellow-Billed Storks. About 20 birds will make a colony.
The male Yellow-Billed Stork selects a nest site high in a tree, and both the male and female build the nest together, which takes about 10 days. The female lays 2-4 eggs, and both parents sit on them until they hatch about 30 days later.
The eggs hatch asynchronously, usually one or two days apart, so that the chicks differ in age and body size. During food shortage, the younger or smaller may not get enough food, because the parents feed the older chicks first.
The chicks are fed until they are about 21 days old, then they look for their own food. The chicks fledge (gain their feathers) about 50-55 days after hatching. They are fully mature when they are about three years old.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM