Birds – Abdim’s Stork

Among the true Storks also we may mention Abdim’s, or the White-bellied Stork (Abdimia abdimii), a native of tropical Africa and extending thence into Arabia and Spain. In general appearance it is quite similar to the Black Stork, although smaller and with shorter legs, and possessing, moreover, a number of anatomical differences. The general color is black above, slightly glossed with steel-green and purple, the bend of the wing, the back, rump, and upper tail-coverts being white; the head, neck, and fore neck metallic green and purple, while the remainder of the under surface from the fore neck downward is white. The bill is horny green with a crimson tip, while the naked space around the ears, a spot in front of the eyes,nostrils, and throat are crimson; the legs are olive-green, and the feet and knees crimson. This species is exceedingly abundant in many parts of Africa, frequenting the vicinity of the villages during the breeding season, where it is venerated and protected much as is the White Stork in Europe. Andersson says : This somewhat coarse but handsome Stork arrives in Damara Land during the rainy season, leaving it again on the approach of the dry. The more plentiful the rain, the more abundant the birds, the cause being simply the great abundance of food. This species feeds largely on locusts, but devours with equal gusto beetles of all kinds, many hundreds of which I have taken from the stomach of a single bird; it also devours small reptiles, water-rats, fish, and frogs, but appears to prefer locusts when these are to be had, chasing them over the ground as well as in the air.” These birds usually nest in communities, placing the nests in trees, sometimes to the number of twenty or thirty in a single tree. The eggs are three or four, and small for the size of the bird. The Adjutants, or Marabou Storks (Lep-toptilus), are the largest and at the same time the homeliest members of the whole group.

They are from forty to sixty inches in length, with an enormous bill, a bare head and neck, and a curious pouch pendent from the chest. This pouch is popularly supposed to be a receptacle for food, but as a matter of fact it has no connection with the esophagus. Another feature of moment is afforded by the under tail-coverts, which are composed of beautiful, soft, downy plumes. The general color of the bird is ashy gray above, with a green reflection, and pure white below. These birds are true scavengers, feeding largely on carrion but also capturing living prey such as fish, tortoises, and snakes. In India it is a common sight to see them about the streets of the towns, unabashed by the presence of man or dog, and such is its value that it is protected by law in many places. After satisfying its hunger it seeks repose during the heat of the day, and may often be seen standing for hours with one foot drawn up under its body, or resting on the whole leg, with the feet spread out in front in what appears a very awkward position. They build a large nest on rocky cliffs or occasionally in trees and lay from two to four oval, chalky white eggs. Three species are known, the African Adjutant (L. Crumeniferus), found throughout tropical Africa, the Indian Adjutant (L. Dubius) of the Indian peninsula and Indo-Chinese countries, and L. Javanicus, widely distributed in the Orient.