“The stork cometh and baby does live!”

The African Shoebill storks are first time parents! Congratulations to everyone involved!

On December 25, 2009, in Tampa Florida at the Lowry Park Zoo the first baby African Shoebill stork was

The Stork cometh!

hatched. Thus Lowry became the first wildlife institution in the North America to hatch a rare African shoebill stork chick, and just the second institution worldwide.
So far the parent birds are involved parents who are sharing in the brooding responsibilities.  Aviary zoo keepers have conducted “dawn to dusk” watches to document feeding by the parent birds and response by the chick. It is thought that the chick will remain in the nest for about 120 days.

There are few Shoebills in captivity. Only 12 adult shoebills live in North American wildlife institutions, four of which are housed at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The population of wild Shoebills is thought to number 8,000-10,000 with the species listed as vulnerable.  “The shoebill population is uncommon in the wild, and rarely seen in zoos.

“Congratulations on this historic achievement in conserving  this rare species.” Mother Nature

The African Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)or Whalehead belongs to the pelican family.

Known as one of the great bird species of Africa, the Shoebill is a very large bird. The adult is 115-150 cm (45-64 in) tall,  230-260 cm (91-125 in) across the wings and weighs 4 to 7 kg (8.8-15.5 lbs). The adult is mainly grey while the juveniles are browner. It lives in tropical east Africa in large swamps from Sudan to Zambia. darkly colored birds (blue-grey) with unusually large bills up to 12 inches long and 5 inches wide that resemble the shape of a wooden shoe. A broad wingspan and long, strong legs give this rare bird a stork-like appearance.
Common names for Shoebills include shoe-billed stork, whale-headed stork or bog bird, because they are known to nest on the ground near water where they forage in shallow, aquatic environments. preying on fish, frogs, reptiles, such as baby crocodiles, insects and small mammals. They lay 2 eggs in their undisturbed papyrus reed beds in highly vegetated areas.

A unique adaptation for hunting

A shoebill stork will often live in waters that are poorly oxygenated so the fish their prey will have to go to the surface more often for oxygen. This increases their higher chance of getting pleny of fish to eat.
The population is estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals, the majority of which live in Sudan. BirdLife International have classified it as Vulnerable with the main threats being habitat destruction, disturbance and hunting.

Resources


Excerpts
courtesy of  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoebill_stork

Excerpts courtesy of  http://www.zandavisitor.com/forumtopicdetail-29-Tampa_Lowry_Park_Zoo

Image 1 and 2. courtesy of   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balaeniceps_rex_-San_Diego_Zoo.jpg

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