Leptoptilos – Adjutant birds

Massive storks with bare heads like vultures

The Adjutant storks are three extant species from SE Asia (2) and Africa (1); their fossil records date back to the Pliocene.

The lack of contour feathering (on the head and neck) and massive dagger-like bills are both adaptations to support their scavenging habits. Carrions and dumped rubbish are their main diet. The Marabou and Greater Adjutant have large inflatable throat pouches, with an important role in breeding. They are colonial nesters. The loud mooing and squealing vocalization during courtship are characteristic of Adjutants.

They disperse to fairly long distances while flying their necks are retracted (to support their large weights). The Asian Adjutants are disappearing rapidly with anthropogenic pressure.