Stork, Yellow-billed



Mycteria ibis  


Adult yellow-billed storks have a smooth forehead and their face is orangey-red. Their bills are long and thick at the base. It is also slightly curved at the tip and bright yellow, hence their name. Their necks are also long and slender and grayish white. The rest of their body including their back, belly and breast is solid white with a small hint of pink on the tips of their feathers. Their tail and wing quills are black.The yellow-billed storks’ legs vary from a dark red to a light pink color and are long and skinny. The female storks are smaller than males.  

Family

Ciconiidae

Order

Ciconiiformes

Class

Aves

Range

Tropical East Africa; Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar

Habitat

Aquatic habitats, including shallow lakes, mud flats, coastal lagoons and meadows

Life Expectancy

Sexual Maturity

Diet

In the wild: feeds on crustaceans, small fish, frogs, insects and worms. In the zoo: dallas crown, whole and chopped capelin, mice, insects, soaked dog food.

Status

IUCN - Least Concern

Behaviors

Fairly inactive birds, tend to rest and feed during much of the day. Use strong, quick wingbeats during flight and will glide on thermals for traveling long distances. They move around slowly and deliberately, and do not flock in large social groups, but small groups are fairly common. Storks lack a pharynx and are mute; bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Females approach the males in courtship, but the male will choose the nest-site. Both will work to build the nest, usually completed within 7-10 days. Incubation up to 30 days, usually have 2-4 eggs, young fledge the nest at ~55 days. During the breeding season, which coincides with the end of the rainy season, they display feathers with a tinge of pink color.

Adaptions

These birds are known to have the quickest muscular reflex of the neck, allowing almost all food to be caught in the water. Their long, narrow, curve tipped bills allow them only to catch small prey such as small fish, frogs, insects and worms passing by in the water. Yellow-billed storks are intelligent birds. They typically use one foot to stir up the water or mud which disturbs and flushes out the prey, then they submerge their heads quickly in the water, snapping their bills on small prey.

Special Interests

Folklore

In Western culture the White Stork (which is very similar in appearance to the yellow-billed stork) is a symbol of childbirth. In Victorian times the details of human reproduction were a difficult subject to approach, especially in reply to a child’s query of “Where did I come from?”; “The stork brought you to us” was the tactic used to avoid discussion of sex. This habit was derived from the once popular superstition that storks be the harbingers of happiness and prosperity.

Conservation

Jacksonville Zoo History

Exhibit

River Valley Aviary