ua en ru

What shoebill looks like - Giant predator feeding on crocodiles

What shoebill looks like - Giant predator feeding on crocodiles Shoebill is able to remain motionless for a long time (photo: Wikipedia)
Author: Daryna Vialko

Shoebill is one of the most mysterious and terrifying predators living in the deep swamps of East Africa. This huge bird, almost as large as a human, not only attracts attention with its majesty but also with its unpredictable nature.

What is a shoebill?

The shoebill is a large bird with an impressive size. It can be very tall, almost like a human, 110-140 cm, but some of them can be even bigger and reach 152 cm. It has huge wings that look almost like a cloak worn by a bird.

The main distinguishing feature is its impressive beak: wide and massive, it can easily tear its prey to pieces, even those that are much larger than it is.

They usually stay alone or in pairs, sometimes in small groups. Their flight is a bit like that of a heron: they retract their necks and extend their legs, but remain heavy and slow, and can also plan on almost motionless wings.

The life expectancy of a shoebill can reach up to 50 years, ensuring a long existence in its natural environment.

Обитает китоглав в болотистой местности тропических районов Африки

Appearance of the shoebill during hunting (photo: Wikipedia)

Hunting abilities of the bird

Although the shoebill may appear to be a peaceful member of the ecosystem, it is an efficient hunter. Using its huge beak, which can be up to 30 centimeters long, it usually hunts fish, snakes, and even crocodile babies.

Its hunting strategy is impressive: standing motionless in the swamp, it suddenly rushes forward to get its prey.

Клювом-сачком китоглав зачерпывает рыбу и лягушек вместе с водой (в этом схож с пеликанами)

With its net-like beak, the shoebill scoops up fish and frogs along with the water, almost like a pelican (photo: Wikipedia)

Social abilities of the bird

However, a shoebill is not only a hunter but also a creature with a complex social structure.

These birds usually lead a solitary lifestyle, but they nest in pairs that remain faithful to each other and lay about three eggs.

Competition between siblings often results in only one chick from each nest surviving to adulthood. Usually, it is the strongest and most resilient one that outcompetes the others for food or even kills them. The second or third chick becomes only a backup plan in case the first one doesn't survive.

Although shoebills are often compared to the stork, they have their own place in nature, are one of a kind, and have a wider family branch than one might think.

О брачном поведении этой птицы в природе пока известно немного

Little is known about the mating behavior of this bird in nature (photo: Wikipedia)