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1. What does the marabou stork look like? The first thing that you'll notice about marabou storks is that they're hideous. They have beady eyes in scabby pink faces with huge gullet sacs dangling from their necks.
Marabou storks also have large black wings and skinny white legs. This is part of the reason why they're nicknamed after undertakers: they look a lot like people who work in funeral homes.
Something else to note about marabou storks is that they're completely bald. This is to keep them clean as they pick through animal carcasses.
If they had fur or hair, it would quickly become weighed down with blood, guts, and viscera, and that's just asking for an infection.
Marabou storks are some super weird birds!
2. Why do marabou storks have an inflatable pouch? The inflatable pouches are called gular sacs, and they're normally used for food storage. For example, seabirds scoop and carry fish in them until they're ready to eat.
With marabou storks, however, their gular sacs are mostly used for mating. The males will puff them up when trying to attract a female. Since their gular sacs can reach 18 inches long even before they're enlarged, this makes them quite the sight!
3. How tall is a marabou stork? Marabou storks are startlingly large. They reach 4 – 5 feet tall, so they tower over other birds. And they're just a little shorter than the average adult woman in the U.S!
4. How much does a marabou stork weigh? Marabou storks weigh anywhere from 10 – 20 pounds. Most of their weight is carried in their heads and torsos; their legs are like sticks in proportion to the rest of their bodies.
5. What is the marabou storks wingspan? The marabou stork has one of the largest wingspans of any land bird. When fully extended, their wings measure about 12 feet long from tip to tip. This size is matched only by pelicans and condors.
6. How does the marabou stork keep cool? Marabou storks have a unique way of keeping cool in the hot African desert: they poop on their own legs.
It might sound nasty, but it's a legitimate scientific process called urohidrosis, and it's practiced by storks, vultures, and other birds.
The liquid content of the feces triggers evaporative cooling and helps to regulate internal body temperature. In other words, it keeps them cool.
7. Are marabou storks friendly? While not truly friendly, marabou storks have grown used to humans.
They'll scavenge for food anywhere, and this includes dumps and landfills made by human populations.
They're familiar with the sight of weird featherless birds scurrying around with clipboards.
8. Are marabou storks aggressive? Marabou storks can get quite aggressive. They're known for having short fuses, and they'll snap and strike at anything that triggers their tempers.
Since their beaks protrude about 50 inches, this results in a mean pinch! They've even been known to lash out at humans when humans interrupt their dumpster diving.
9. Do marabou storks fly? Yes. Despite their large size, marabou storks are capable flyers. They utilize several tricks to keep them in the air.
They'll tuck in their chins to decrease wind resistance, and they'll let their legs trail behind their wings to keep the extra weight from dragging them down.
10. How high can a marabou stork fly? Marabou storks can reach heights up to 13,000 feet, but they don't always fly that high. They mostly take to the air for scavenging purposes, so they stay close to the ground to look for food.
11. Why do marabou storks fly towards fire? When there's a bushfire, there are scared and panicked animals fleeing from it. Marabou storks are intelligent enough to understand this, so whenever they spot the tell-tale flames, they swoop towards them and look for dinner. They can catch all sorts of bugs, reptiles, and small mammals during a fire.
12. How long do marabou storks live? According to the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, marabou storks can live 25 years in the wild and 41 years in captivity. The maximum age is believed to be 44.7 years.
13. Do marabou storks stand around all day? It's true that marabou storks like to conserve energy. They aren't a curious or playful species, so in their downtime, they might spend long hours just standing and staring into space.
However, this shouldn't be taken as a sign of laziness. Marabou storks often multitask while they stand. For example, they spread their wings and sun themselves when they've gotten too cool, and they rest on their rear tarsi bones to encourage digestion after a long meal.
14. What eats a marabou stork? Predators and Threats They're so large and mobile that they aren't easy prey, but marabou storks can be killed by anything with enough strength to take them down and keep them down.