December 31, 2013

Big Bird

The area where I live in South Sudan is home to a great variety of birds. The kids on my team have actually formed a bird watching club called the PBC (Parot Bird Club), complete with handmade membership cards.



One of the more unique looking birds in our area is the fellow on the left, a marabou stork. Rather an ugly head, with no feathers. It's a scavenger, you see, like the vulture, and as Wikipedia says, "a feathered head would become rapidly clotted with blood and other substances when the bird's head was inside a large corpse, and the bare head is easier to keep clean."


The long pink tube hanging from the marabout's throat is called a gular sac. One of its uses is to make various noises during courtship rituals. 










The marabou stork is a massive bird; it can grow up to 5 feet tall and weigh up to 20 pounds. Large marabous can have a wingspan of more than 10 feet.










Last month there was a flock of marabous courting and building nests in a huge tree near the Samaritan's Purse base where we go to use the internet. It's quite impressive to see these huge birds perched on top of branches high up in the air.




The couple in the upper middle of the above photo were quite the luvvy-duvvy pair. They remained unperturbed and immobile, huddled together while the pair just above them were constantly in motion, with (I presume) the male coming and going in a flurry of wings.






"I'm the king of the castle!" For whatever reason, this fellow was perched alone on another tree.


Oops--a split second too late on the shutter! Bye for now. See you next year!

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