Saddle- billed stork

The Saddle-billed Stork is a large wading bird in the stork family. It is a widespread species which is a resident breeder in sub-Saharan Africa from Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya south to South Africa, and in The Gambia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad in West Africa.

It is a close relative of the widespread Asian Black-necked Stork, the only other member of the genus Ephippiorhynchus. It is spectacularly plumaged, identical in male and female.

They are silent except for bill-clattering at the nest. Like most storks, these fly with the neck outstretched, not retracted like a heron; in flight, the large heavy bill is kept drooping somewhat below belly height, giving these birds a very unusual appearance to those who see them for the first time.

The Saddle-billed Stork breeds in forested waterlands and other floodlands in tropical lowland. It builds a large, deep stick nest in a tree, laying one or two white eggs weighing about 146g each. It does not form breeding colonies, and is usually found alone or in pairs.

The incubation period is 30–35 days, with another 70 – 100 days before the chicks fledge. This photograph was taken at Kabwoya game reserve on the edge of Lake albert and appears in the book East African birds.

By Andy Gooch, Daily Monitor

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