Shoebill: The Death Bird

the large beak of a shoebill bird

The Shoebill is one of the scariest and largest birds you can find on the entire globe. Standing at about five feet on average and a wingspan of about eight feet, these stork-like birds can be found in the tropics of East Africa. Named for its enormous shoe-shaped bill, the Shoebill is usually grey in color with a yellow-orange bill. These birds were once classified with storks, a very close morphological bird but, have since been classified into their own genus and species (Balaeniceps).

the large beak of a shoebill bird
Photo by Petr Ganaj on

Shoebills are not like many other birds on the planet today. Like all birds, the Shoebill evolved from dinosaurs millions of years ago. Not until, about 65 million years ago, however, did the Shoebill believe to start its life. Like most things in prehistoric times, Shoebills had to survive fiercely. Their bill is not only a defining characteristic of their species but a dangerous weapon. Its sharp ends and immense strength allow it to decapitate six-foot fish, swallow eels, and even crocodiles.

So, are these immense and powerful birds dangerous to humans? The answer in short is yes and no. The Shoebill has the capability of being lethal to a human but, it would only happen in situations where a person provokes the animal. This includes getting too close, causing a threat to their young, and hunting. To stay safe from this animal, you should approach with causing and awareness.

shoebills with long beaks in zoological garden
Photo by Inga Seliverstova on

One of the craziest things people say when they see this bird is, how does it fly? The Shoebill might look like it weighs close to a hundred pounds but it is actually much less than that. Due to the adaptations of birds and their morphological structures such as porous bones, these birds weigh only about 15 pounds! This makes it easier for their large wings to create lift and fly short distances.

Published by pensmenger

I am a Biology Major attending Arcadia University. I started the company My Biology Experience in hopes to connect the Biology community on a closer level.

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