NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The big bill birds

Saddle-billed stork hunts for aquatic snacks in the reeds

In Summary

• Many storks have a rapid-strike technique, using their long, fast neck to catch prey

Saddle bill breakfast
Saddle bill breakfast
Image: GARETH JONES

As I approached a dam in the forest, I slowed the vehicle down to a crawl speed in the hope that my arrival would not alarm any wildlife at the water.

My “slow-go” effort was rewarded. A magnificent male saddle billed stork was standing in the shallow water near the edge of the dam.

This saddle-billed stork was hunting for aquatic snacks in the reeds. He was so focused on catching food that I was virtually ignored.

 

Many storks have a rapid-strike technique, whereby they use their long neck that is very fast when striking to catch prey.

Over a short period of time, there were quite a few successful prey catches, including a frog.

To see a saddlebill in the wild is always a thrill as they are impressive  and colourful. They are huge birds that regularly attain a heights of 150cm or more, a length of 142cm and a 2.4–2.7m wingspan.

The male is larger and heavier than the female. In many parts of Africa, these storks are rare, so to actually have them in the Nairobi National Park is special.  

There are a number of large-billed birds that are found in the park, apart from the saddle-billed stork. There are also many other types of interesting storks, such as marabou storks, open-bill storks, yellow-billed storks, white storks and woolly necked storks

I know of some people who visit the park for the prime purpose of going on a “birding safari”. There are so many hundreds of species to see at all times of the year. 

Stopping at a wetland and watching the incredible variety birds that God has created is very rewarding and helps relieve stress. The big bill birds, commonly known as storks, are really worth watching. Why not try it next time? It is very rewarding!

 

For information on the park, link to the following website: www.kws.go.ke