Yellow-billed stork

As the name suggests, this whitish stork has a bright red face and a distinctively long yellow bill

Charles J. Sharp

The Yellow-billed, also known as the Wood Stork or Wood Ibis, is an elegant wading bird found in the wetlands and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. With its distinctive long, yellow bill, which is slightly down-curved at the tip, and its striking white plumage with pink-tinged edges during the breeding season, this stork is a visually striking presence in its natural habitat.

The Yellow-billed Stork stands at about 90 to 105 cm (35 to 41 inches), with a wingspan that can reach up to 150 cm (59 inches). This species is particularly noted for its specialized feeding technique, which is both tactile and reactive. It forages in shallow waters, often alongside other waterbirds, using its sensitive bill to detect and snap up prey such as fish, frogs, insects, and crustaceans. This method of feeding, known as “grope feeding,” involves the bird walking slowly through the water with its bill submerged, waiting to feel the movement of prey.

The “snap-bill” reflex is an instantaneous closing of the bill when it comes into contact with potential food – a remarkable adaptation that allows for efficient hunting in murky waters where visibility is low. After capturing the prey, the Yellow-billed Stork will typically lift its head and use gravity to help swallow the catch.

Socially, Yellow-billed Storks can be somewhat gregarious, particularly when feeding or during the breeding season. They are known to form loose breeding colonies, often in association with other species of storks, herons, and ibises. While they are generally quiet birds, they do produce low-pitched, guttural sounds, especially in the nesting colonies, which can become quite noisy with the sounds of all the different species.

When it comes to nesting, the Yellow-billed Stork prefers tall trees standing in or near water. The nests are constructed from sticks and can become quite large as they are used year after year, with new layers added each breeding season.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
2016
Benin
2016
Botswana
2016
Bulgaria
2016
Vagrant
Burkina Faso
2016
Burundi
2016
Cameroon
2016
Central Af. Rep.
2016
Chad
2016
Congo-Brazzaville
2016
Côte D’ivoire
2016
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2016
Djibouti
2016
Egypt
2016
Vagrant
Equatorial Guinea
2016
Eritrea
2016
Eswatini
2016
Ethiopia
2016
Gabon
2016
Gambia
2016
Ghana
2016
Guinea-Bissau
2016
Breeding
Guinea
2016
Israel
2016
Vagrant
Jordan
2016
Vagrant
Kenya
2016
Lesotho
2016
Liberia
2016
Madagascar
2016
Malawi
2016
Mali
2016
Mauritania
2016
Morocco
2016
Vagrant
Mozambique
2016
Namibia
2016
Niger
2016
Nigeria
2016
Qatar
2016
Seasonality Uncertain
Rwanda
2016
Senegal
2016
Sierra Leone
2016
Somalia
2016
South Africa
2016
South Sudan
2016
Breeding
Spain
2016
Vagrant
Sudan
2016
Tanzania
2016
Breeding
Togo
2016
Tunisia
2016
Vagrant
Turkey
2016
Vagrant
Uganda
2016
Zambia
2016
Breeding
Zimbabwe
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No