Weird Nature
778.3k readers

Borderline Terrifying Facts About The Shoebill Bird

Updated August 5, 2021 778.3k views10 items

It's common for scientists to publish some report that says dinosaurs and birds had a lot in common physically. For some people, that might make dinos seem less terrifying. But in some cases, it makes birds seem a little scarier. One example is the shoebill stork, a species that many consider the scariest bird to walk the planet.

If you’re looking for a modern-day dinosaur, then the elusive shoebill stork might be the closest you'll get. The shoebill bird is native to the marshes of East Africa. It's a masterful hunter and endangered species, but it's also a frightening creature to the inhabitants of the lands it occupies. If you want to understand just how bone-chillingly terrifying nature can be, then here are some reasons why the shoebill stork is a scary bird that you'd never want to encounter.

  • The Shoebill Stork Can Reach Human Heights

    Video: YouTube

    Shoebill storks are not very meaty birds, only topping out at around 16 pounds. Yet, the shoebill stork is still extremely large in terms of height. They routinely reach nearly 5 feet in height, and their wings can stretch to more than 7 feet in width. Their sharp beaks are also unnaturally large for their bodies, measuring 8 to 12 inches long and 4 to 5 inches wide.

    These birds tower over children and can even stare some adult humans in the eye. They can stand for hours on end without blinking their golden eyes, so their resting face might seem like a "death stare" if it's at your eye level.

  • Some Cultures Believe These Birds Are Bad Luck

    Despite having few predators, shoebills are an endangered species. There are less than 5,000 of these birds left, and humans are mostly to blame. Shoebill habitats are being destroyed, and the birds are often hunted by humans, too. Yet, one of the biggest reasons for their critical condition is centered around a superstition. 

    Many individuals believe that these birds are bad luck. It's assumed that a shoebill along the shore will bring bad luck to fishermen for the day. Many native tribes will purposely kill the shoebills to cleanse their land from the "bad omens" that these birds bring. Sadly, these practices have led to the birds becoming extinct in many parts of Africa. 

  • Shoebills Prefer Poorly Oxygenated Water

    Shoebill storks have unique preferences when it comes to their hunting grounds. They specifically seek out poorly oxygenated water because it forces their prey to come to the surface more often, making hunting a much faster process. Shoebills can stand still for hours on end, but with the right water, they can seek out prey much more easily. 

    Another unusual aspect that shoebills prefer is water with hippos in it. Hippopotamuses can benefit shoebills during feeding time. When hippos are submerged in the water, it also forces the fish to come closer to the surface. Shoebills will wait for the hippos to disturb the fish, and then strike. 

  • They Defecate To Cool Themselves Down

    "Urohydrosis" is an action commonly used by large birds like shoebills and other storks. It refers to when an animal poops on themselves to keep their body temperature down. Their feces is a similar liquid to regular bird poop, which helps it evaporate shortly after. 

    Shoebills have warm blood circulating in their legs, so that heat is used to evaporate the waste and cause the blood circulation to be cooler as a result. So, you may often see these birds pooping on themselves to control their body temperature throughout the day.