Fun Marabou Stork Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Oct 20, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
Some great Marabou Stork Facts about the largest and most intimidating stork birds from Africa.

The Marabou Stork is a large and intimidating-looking African bird from the family of storks or Ciconiidae. They are the largest storks among all their species, with a giant wingspan of 8.5 ft (2.6 m).

At first sight, the Marabou Stork is a massively underwhelming bird to look at, and with good reason. These birds, albeit very well populated, are an absolute eye-sore to look at.

They have scabby and mangy-looking skin that looks almost battered down, a long bill that's reminiscent of a few thriller movies, and the Marabou Stork skull is round with discolored skin and a few tufts of hair on it. This is a large bird that is both similar yet far from the usual stork appearance.

The Marabou Stork has been nicknamed the 'undertaker bird' due to its appearance, when seen from behind, the marabou stork's back and wings show to resemble a shroud; their legs are thin and white along with a white tuft of hair on its head.

Marabou Storks practice urohydrosis or excreting onto their legs as a cooling effect, assisting them in controlling body heat levels.

Furthermore, this is what gives their legs a whitish appearance. Their toe and leg bones are completely hollow, helping them take flight.

The Marabou Stork typically flies around to look for food and scavenge. Marabou Storks are attracted to grass fires like a moth is to fire.

They essentially fly in front of the flares and dive down on smaller creatures escaping the blast. A Marabou Stork tends to have a heavy diet and is also known to feed on the eggs of other birds, apart from carrion.

Marabou Storks love to follow vultures in search of new destinations and food since only vultures can lead them to large carcasses. They prefer to quietly trust the vultures to feed or directly attack to hunt down their prey on these quests.

Previously, the feathers of these birds were used to make gowns, hats, and coats. One should never consume their meat even though it may not be fatal. Nevertheless, it will surely cause a lot of trouble for your body.

In fact, there are roadside markets in Africa that will hack and fry a meal as a cheap nibble for the locals. However, everybody denounces this, from bird specialists to wellbeing authorities. They caution that the meat could be defiled on account of unpredictable rummaging by these storks.

If you enjoy reading this, after do read our articles on stork and vulture.

Marabou Stork Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Marabou Stork?

A Marabou Stork is the largest known stork bird from the family Ciconiidae.

What class of animal does a Marabou Stork belong to?

A Marabou Stork belongs to Aves or bird class of animal.

How many Marabou Storks are there in the world?

The population of these enormous storks is roughly 10,000 mature birds.

Where does a Marabou Stork live?

Marabou Storks prefers living in the desert of South Africa with wet and arid habitats, preferably closer to fishing villages or landfill and garbage sites.

What is a Marabou Stork's habitat?

The Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus) birds usually form a habit where they occupy meadows, open and dry savannas, riverbanks, swamps, and lakeshores. They can easily be spotted amid the wet and arid lands of the African continent. The equatorial climate along with respective environmental conditions are the best to suit the Marabou Stork habitat.

Marabou Storks occupy open meadows, dry savannas, riverbanks, swamps, and lakeshores. This bird species is found all over South Africa closer to fishing villages where they can lift scraps from the landfill of African towns.

In the wild, you could easily find leftover carcasses of Antelope, and the Marabou Stork will feed on this meat alongside Vultures (over which these storks tend to dominate).

They tend to have a lifespan of 25 years in the wild and 41 years in captivity. Their Latin name is Leptoptilos crumeniferus, which when translated to Arabic reads as 'hermit like'.

Who do Marabou Storks live with?

Marabou Storks prefer living in groups and avoid a solitary life.

How long does a Marabou Stork live?

Marabou Storks have a good lifespan of 25 years in the wild and a whopping 41 years in captivity!

How do they reproduce?

Their breeding season starts in the dry season of the year; the dry season marks the dropped down water levels making it easier for this bird to spot fish and other birds. These storks breed once they reach sexual maturity.

Storks assemble in bunches ranging from sets of 20 to a few thousands. The male originally comes and sets up an area where he welcomes novices with an expanded throat pouch.

They tend to use the pouch to perform the courtship ritual. After the female is attracted to a male, she accepts him by inflating her pouch in return.

Before long the male welcomes the pursuing female into his domain. The new pair then begin to construct their nest with the male collecting twigs and sticks while the female sticks around the nest, guarding it.

They lay eggs once or twice a year and can lay about 3-4 eggs at a time. The eggs are white in color with a splash of yellow and black.

They tend to breed on treetops and make their nest noticeably on heights. Hatchlings are subject to their mothers for quite a while, and it takes significantly longer for them to acquire enough freedom to leave their stork groups.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of Marabou Storks is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. This species of bird can survive anywhere and their population is increasing remarkably.

Keeping aside their looks, the presence of these birds is vital for the ecosystem. When it comes to food, they eat dead animal carcasses and waste from trash dumps in South Africa.

This, in turn, helps in gradually cleaning the environment and preventing the spread of diseases. In 2017, a property in Nairobi experienced harsh criticism when it was found that their in-house gourmet specialists were utilizing Marabou Stork meat rather than chicken.

Marabou Stork Fun Facts

What do Marabou Storks look like?

Talking about Marabou stork's (Leptoptilos crumeniferus) head and neck, it is usually bald with no feathers except for maybe a tuft of hair.

They have beady eyes on a scabby pink head with a tremendous neck sac hanging from their neck. Marabou storks additionally have huge dark wings and thin white legs.

How cute are they?

Marabou Storks are not really considered 'cute', although the lovely mix of colors on the body of these birds makes them somewhat attractive. Marabou Stork birds are also called 'undertaker birds' due to their appearance. About their cuteness, opinions vary from person to person, but nearly everyone believes that they aren't pleasant to look at.

How do they communicate?

The swollen throat sac of a Marabou Stork is an indication of strength and movement. The sac additionally operates like a thermoregulator to then chill the Marabou off. The air sac on the nape likewise plays out this capacity.

The throat sac interfaces with the left nostril and capacities as a resonator to create a throaty croaking during social presentations. This sac indeed compensates for the absence of a vocal organ. During reproducing and settling, it applauds the mandibles together quickly (also called 'bill clattering').

How big is a Marabou Stork?

Marabou Stork size shows that they grow up to 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) tall hence overshadow different birds. The greater part of their weight is noted to be in their head and middle body; their legs resemble thin bamboo sticks in relation to the remainder of their bodies.

On the other hand, the Marabou Stork wingspan is larger than any other land bird, being 12 feet long from one tip to the other. The large size of the Marabou and the uncovered head and neck, dark back, and white underparts make it easier to spot in the air.

It has an enormous bill, an inflatable throat pouch (pink gular sac), a neck ruff, dark legs, and wings.

Both the males and the females are similar. However, the younger bird is browner and has a more modest bill.

How fast can a Marabou Stork fly?

Despite their large size, Marabou Stork flying high is a common thing to see. They can fly up to 13,000 feet. However, when it comes to their speed, they are not known to be very fast flyers.

How much does a Marabou Stork weigh?

A Marabou Stork weight may range from 10-17.6 pounds (4.5-8 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The males or the females do not have different specified names.

What would you call a baby Marabou Stork?

A baby Marabou Stork can be called a young Marabou Stork or a Marabou Stork chick.

What do they eat?

Marabou Stork diet includes everything that can be picked from garbage dumps apart from fish, insects, carrion, scraps, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians. Marabou Storks love to feed on doves, pigeons, flamingos, pelicans, and queleas.

Are they dangerous?

A Marabou Stork attack is not very common, although Marabou Storks (the undertaker bird) can be a little aggressive at times. They're known for snapping and striking at whatever triggers their tempers, especially when they are to eat. They have also been known to lash out at people when they interfere with their dumpster jumping.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they can't make a good pet as they feed on carcasses and prefer building their nest at great heights. These birds prefer living without any human interference.

Did you know...

A few fascinating Marabou Stork kid facts are that they can swallow around 2.2 pounds of meat in a single bite (such huge bites make it easier for them to feed on their prey, namely fish or other large birds like Flamingos). Plus, groups of Marabou Stork are known as a 'phalanx' or 'muster'.

An average group of storks has 20 members and a maximum of 100 members.

Why do marabou storks have neck sacks?

The inflatable throat pouch is called a gular sac, and they're basically utilized for food stockpiling. The gular sac is mostly used for mating. The males will puff them up when attempting to draw in a female. Since their gular sac can be 18 inches in length even before they're extended, they make for a remarkable sight.

What is the symbiotic relationship between bees and marabou storks?

The Bee and Marabou Stork relationship is one that is special and mutually beneficial.

A flesh-eater by nature, the Marabou Stork flourishes wherever there is meat to eat, using its long and strong bill to effectively separate the remains of dead creatures. Honeybees use what is given up by the Marabou Stork as food as a great place to lay their eggs.

This is an example of a commensalism relationship where two species exist and operate in tandem, where one creature benefits (the commensal, the Honeybees) while the other creature is neither benefited nor harmed by giving the other an involuntary advantage.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including emu, or peacock.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Marabou Stork coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel

Bachelor of Business Management

Yashvee Patel picture

Yashvee PatelBachelor of Business Management

Yashvee has won awards for both her writing and badminton skills. She holds a business administration honors degree and has previously interned with social media clients and worked on content for an international student festival. Yashvee has excelled in academic competitions, ranking in the top 100 in the Unified International English Olympiad and placing second in an essay-writing competition. Additionally, she has won the inter-school singles badminton title for two consecutive years.

Read full bio >