Saddlebill Stork

saddlebill 1
Scientific Name: Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
Geographical Range: Tropical Africa south of the Sahara
Habitat: Open wetlands
Diet in the Wild: These birds eat fish and they love grasshoppers. They hunt by sight and touch.
Conservation Status: Not threatened

Location in the Zoo:
Lower walkway

Threats to the Species:
The wetlands of South Africa are diminishing due to human population and growth.  Without this habitat the population of this animal will also diminish.  

Social Organization::

These birds prefer to live alone or in a nesting pair.

Physical Description:
The Saddlebilled Stork is one of the largest storks, reaching approximately 58 inches in height. It is easy to identify this bird because they all have a large red bill with a black band and a bright yellow plate at the front. The face, neck, wings and tail feathers are black while the back and breast feathers are white. Thier legs are usually black with reddish colored joints. They have a bare red patch on their chest that intensifies in color during the mating season.

Male and Female Characteristics:
The male and female Saddlebill Storks are very easy to distinguish from one another. The male has black eyes while the female has bright yellow eyes. The images above and to the right portray a male and the image below portrays a female. Females are also typically about ten percent smaller than the male.

Reproductive Behavior:
These storks nest in large trees each year at the end of the wet season in Africa.  They ususally produce between two and three eggs each year with one offspring surviving to matuity.  Both parents tend to the nest and care for the nestlings. The photo below depicts a female Stork standing on her nest at the Fort Worth Zoo.  The nest is about five feet in diameter.

saddlebill 4

saddlebill 2

The saddlebills at the Zoo:
The Fort Worth Zoo has one male and one female Saddlebilled Stork.  They spend a great deal of their time at the back ot their habitat amidst the trees and shrubs.  They do tend to their nest located at the base of a large tree in the center of their habitat.   Generally they stay together and follow each other around.


Page Author:
Jill Foley

Sources and Links:
Book sources:

Benn, G.A., Kemp, A.C., Begg, K.S., The distribution, size and trends of the saddlebilled stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis population in South Africa South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 03794369, Sep95, Vol. 25, Issue 3

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Bernhard Grzimek, editor-in-chief. New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1975.

The Pictorial Encyclopedia of Birds [by] J. Hanzak; edited by Bruce Campbell. London, Hamlyn, 1967.



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