Marabou is a majestic bird from the stork family. This species combines a strand of 20 subspecies. Among all representatives of the stork family, the marabou is distinguished by the most impressive size. Birds have a memorable appearance and often live in large numbers in the regions where large landfills are located. It is there that they look for a source of food, and a bare neck and a head without plumage contribute to keeping the body clean. Marabu is divided into three subspecies Indian, African, Javanese.

Origin of species and description

Photo: Marabou

Photo: Marabu

Marabu belongs to chordates, bird class, stork order, is a representative of the stork family, marabou genus.

Leptoptilos robustus is the deceased ancestor of modern marabou birds. It inhabited the earth in large numbers approximately 125-15 thousand years ago. The main number of populations was located on the island of Florence. Representatives of this species were very large birds. Scientists managed to find the remains of these giants. According to the samples found, it was possible to establish that they had a height of about 2 meters and a body weight of 18-20 kilograms. Due to such huge body sizes, they were unlikely to be able to fly.

Video: Marabou

This species of birds is characterized by the presence of massive tubular bones. Such a structure of the bone skeleton provided the ability to move quickly on the surface of the earth and easily do without wings. Scientists suggest that due to the fact that most of the populations lived in the limited space of one island, they could not interbreed with other species.

It was these distant ancestors that became the progenitors of modern stork representatives. They were distributed over different regions, and in the process of evolution and adaptation to living in different parts of the earth, they were divided into different subspecies. Gradually, marabou switched to eating waste and in many regions they were even called scavengers. In this regard, in the process of forming the appearance, the plumage in the head and neck area practically disappeared.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Marabou bird

Photo: Marabou bird

African marabou reaches a height of more than one and a half meters. The body weight of an adult is 8.5-10 kilograms. Sexual dimorphism is not very pronounced; outwardly, female and male individuals practically do not differ in any way, except for size. Males somewhat predominate in size over females.

An interesting fact. A distinctive feature of this representative of storks is that they do not stretch their necks in flight, but rather retract them.

Another distinguishing feature of birds is the absence of plumage in the head and neck area. They have only sparse feathers and down in this area. In the region of the shoulder girdle, on the contrary, the plumage is quite developed. The birds have a long and powerful beak. Its length exceeds 30 centimeters.

There is a kind of bag in the neck area. This fleshy formation connects to the nostrils. It tends to swell, and in this state it can reach 40 centimeters. In young individuals, it is practically absent, and its growth occurs in the process of bird growth. Previously, researchers believed that birds tend to store food there in reserve. However, this version has not been confirmed. This outgrowth is used exclusively so that the bird can lay its head on it at rest, or during the mating season.

Marabou are distinguished by the presence of excellent vision, which is characteristic of all scavengers. Areas of skin not covered with feathers in the neck and head are reddish or orange in color. The body is painted in two colors. The lower part is white or milky in color. The top is painted black. The marabou has very powerful wings. The length of the wingspan of some individuals reaches three meters. Birds, like other representatives of storks, have very long, thin limbs.

Where does the marabou live?

Photo: African Marabou

Photo: African Marabou

This species of birds inhabits the African continent. The main part of the habitat is located somewhat south of the Sahara desert, as well as in the center and south of the continent. Prefers savannahs, steppes, swampy areas, as well as valleys of large rivers as places to live. These representatives of storks try to avoid forests and desert regions. They tend to be located in large flocks on the outskirts of large settlements, where there are a large number of landfills with a huge amount of food waste. Birds are absolutely not afraid of people.

On the contrary, they try to get as close as possible to settlements, since in this case they will be provided with food. The geographic regions of the marabou habitat are quite wide.

The geographical regions of bird habitat:

  • Cambodia;
  • Assam;
  • Thailand;
  • Myanmar;
  • Sudan;
  • Ethiopia;
  • Nigeria;
  • Mali;
  • Cambodia;
  • Burma;
  • China;
  • Java Island;
  • India.

These representatives of storks love open areas where the humidity is quite high. They can often be found near meat and fish processing organizations. A prerequisite for choosing a habitat is the presence of a reservoir. If there is enough food in the coastal zone, the birds are quite capable of hunting and getting their own food. Often birds move to drying up reservoirs, where there are a large number of fish.

If the marabou habitats have favorable conditions and enough food supply, the birds lead a sedentary nesting lifestyle. When the nesting period ends, many birds migrate closer to the equator line, and then return back.

Now you know where the marabou stork lives. Let's see what he eats.

What does a marabou eat?

Photo: Marabou Stork

Photo: Marabou Stork

The main source of food for birds is carrion, or waste from landfills near settlements. A powerful and very long beak is perfectly adapted for separating the flesh of its prey.

Interesting fact: Along with a dubious food culture, marabou are one of the cleanest birds. They will never eat food that is contaminated with anything. The birds will definitely wash it before using it in the pond, and only then will they eat it.

If there is not enough food among the waste and carrion, they may well hunt various small animals, which may be swallowed whole. Birds can hunt by killing prey with a strong, long beak.

What the marabou feeds on:

  • fish;
  • frogs;
  • insects;
  • reptiles;
  • some species of reptiles;
  • the eggs of other birds.

With the help of such a powerful tool as a 30-centimeter beak, marabou can easily kill even representatives of flora and fauna that have thick skins. With such a beak, it is also quite easy to pierce the powerful skin of dead animals and separate the flesh from the skeleton.

In search of food, marabou rise high into the sky, where they soar in free flight, looking for suitable prey. It is common for birds to accumulate in large flocks in regions where a large number of large herbivores, ungulates live.

Birds often fish in shallow water. To catch a fish, they simply enter the water to a shallow depth, lower their open beak into the water and wait motionless. At the moment when they feel the prey, the beak instantly closes, and the prey is swallowed.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Marabou Bird

Photo: Marabou Bird

Marabou is a diurnal bird. From the very morning, she rises high above the nest and soars in free flight in search of food or suitable prey. It is unusual for birds to lead a solitary lifestyle. They live in pairs, and can also gather in fairly large colonies. They can also hunt in groups or singly. They often hunt or seek food with vultures. Even if the birds hunt alone, after the hunt they again gather in large flocks.

It is completely unusual for birds to be afraid of people. Recently, on the contrary, there is a tendency for birds to settle near human settlements. There they find large dumps, where there is always food for them. The African marabou is considered a real virtuoso in the skill of controlling various air currents. Thanks to this ability, birds can rise to a height of more than 4000 meters.

These representatives of storks are often called an adjutant. This is due to the fact that they tend to constantly defecate on long, thin limbs. Scientists believe that in this way they regulate their own body temperature. The average life expectancy of a bird at home is 19-25 years.

An interesting fact: The record holder for life expectancy is an individual that existed in a zoo in Leningrad. The bird was moved to a nursery in 1953 and lived to be 37 years old.

Social Structure and Reproduction

 Photo: Marabou storks

Photo: Marabou storks

The mating season for marabou is timed to coincide with the rainy season. Offspring in birds appears with the onset of drought. By nature, it is arranged in such a way that during the period of drought, many animals die from lack of water, and for the marabou, a period of real feast begins. At this time, it will not be difficult for them to provide food for their offspring.

For the breeding season, the birds build huge nests, the diameter of which in some cases reaches one and a half meters, and the height is 20-40 centimeters. Birds try to make their nests higher in the trees. Often several pairs can easily coexist on one tree at once, their number can reach a dozen. It is noteworthy that most often birds occupy nests already made in advance, only slightly updating and cleaning them.

Interesting fact: Scientists have recorded cases when several generations of birds settled in one place for fifty years. and the same nest.

In birds, mating games are very interesting. It is the females that win the attention of the male. Males choose the female they like the most, and reject all the rest. After a pair has formed, they build a nest and protect it in every possible way from intruders. To scare away unwanted guests, marabou make certain sounds, which are commonly called songs. However, they can hardly be called pleasant and melodic.

The females then lay their eggs in their nest and incubate them. After about a month, 2-3 chicks hatch in each pair. It is worth noting that males are directly involved in raising their offspring. They help the females incubate the eggs, feed the hatched chicks and protect their nest. They, along with the female, take care of the chicks until they become completely independent.

Hatched chicks grow in the nest until about 3.5-4 months, until their body is completely covered with feathers. Then they start learning to fly. Upon reaching the age of one year, the chicks are completely independent and ready to breed their own offspring.

Natural enemies of the marabou

Photo: Marabou in nature

Photo: Marabou in nature

Under natural conditions, birds have practically no enemies. Danger can only threaten chicks who, for some reason, were left unattended in the nest alone. In this case, they can become the prey of other large raptors, such as sea eagles. However, this happens extremely rarely, since the marabou has a very developed parental instinct.

In the recent past, people were considered the main enemy of birds. They destroyed the natural habitat of birds, thus depriving them of a place to live.

In addition, in many African countries, the marabou is considered a harbinger of bad luck, misfortune and disease. People consider him an extremely unpleasant and dangerous representative of flora and fauna. In this connection, they try as much as possible to minimize the comfortable conditions for the habitat of birds near human settlements. However, people do not take into account the fact that birds are of great benefit. They clear the space of dead and sick animals. This avoids the spread of many dangerous infectious diseases. Marabou are considered local orderlies of nature for a reason.

Species population and status

Photo: Marabou

Photo: Marabou

The Indian marabou has the smallest number today. According to scientists and researchers, the number of individuals of this species is slightly more than one thousand. This is due to the destruction of the natural habitat of birds. Wetlands are drained, more and more territories are being developed by humans, as a result of which the food supply is depleted.

Today, the marabou species is divided into three subspecies, each of which, according to rough estimates, has from one and a half to 3-4 thousand individuals. In the recent past, there was a period of a sharp decline in the number of these birds due to the drainage of swampy areas and a large number of reservoirs, which are a necessary condition for the existence of feathered orderlies. To date, the situation with the number of birds has stabilized, and they are not threatened with extinction. In some regions there are very numerous flocks. Their number is growing from year to year due to the fact that even after reaching the age of one year, birds can breed.

Marabou has a not very pleasant appearance. However, their role in nature cannot be overestimated. They save humanity from deadly infectious diseases and the spread of various infections.

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