52. Saddle-Billed Stork

Saddle-Billed Stork *

The Saddle-Billed Stork is one of the more easily identifiable birds in Kenya. Instant identification is made possible by its brilliantly colored kneecaps and bill.

The beak is red with a black band going around the middle, and on the upper side is the yellow “saddle” that includes small wattles that hang below the underside of the beak at the base that look like stirrups.

It is the tallest stork in the world with an 8-1/2 ft wingspan.

The saddle-billed stork has a diet based on fish, crustaceans and amphibians. Because the storks will use their beaks to stir up the water to flush out the fish, this causes the water to become muddy as well as the fish so they often wash their fish before consuming them whole.

The saddle-billed stork is silent because it doesn’t have a syrinx (the vocal organ of birds). Baby chicks must make a hissing sound when wanting their parents’ attention, but in adulthood they are mute. The following video a very quiet view of the saddle-billed stork.

Source: Saddle-billed Stork Fishing in Kruger Park, African Adventures, YouTube (Time: 2:35)

*Why feature the Saddle-Billed Stork?

Even for a novice birdwatcher, this bird should be fairly easy to identify.

Plus, you’ve got to love its built-in orange knee pads.