Although Marabou Storks are NOT birds of prey they will often be seen around carcasses with vultures.
Scientific name : Leptoptilos crumeriferus Afrikaans name : Maraboe
Their name comes from the French word “marabout”, which means ‘ugly, misshapen old man or priest’. They are found along the northern border of South Africa and are now considered ‘Near Threatened’ in this area.
They are tall, UGLY birds with a wingspan that stretches to 287cm. Their feathers are bluish grey above and white below and they have a prominent pinkish-red gular air-sac hanging beneath their throat. This strange appendage is used for thermoregulation. Another odd cooling habit is that they defecate down their legs. This ‘whitewashing’ is called urohydrosis and changes the colour of their normally black legs to grey.
Marabou Storks are mainly scavengers and, like vulture, have an important ecological role to play. They can be seen as part of the swirling mass of birds spiralling on thermals high above the veld in search of a meal. They are also predatory and will prey on anything they can get their beaks on; even flamingo chicks have proved easy targets.
Unlike most birds of prey the male stork is larger than the female. Both birds build the stick nest (on top of a bush or a tree near a water source) and line it with reeds, sedges and mud. They incubate their eggs for 30 to 35 days and both parents feed the chick for 70 to 100 days before it leaves the nest. Marabous make a load hollow clattering noise with their bills, in threat and in nuptial display.
They often stand and sunbath, with their broad wings held open. This softens the old preening oil on their feathers and makes feather parasites move around so that the storks can remove them more easily. Ultra violet rays also kill potentially harmful bacteria on their feathers and sunlight synthesizes vitamin D and helps to maintain feather shape.