Aerial deliveries

The Yellowbilled Stork (Mycteria ibis), which stands about a meter tall, lives along waterways, and in grasslands:

Hippo and yellow-billed stork

They like water between 10-40 cm deep; any deeper, and they can’t hunt effectively.  In the breeding season, the normally white plumage transforms into a sugared-almond pink tutu:

Yellow-billed Stork in breeding plumage

They gather in huge colonies in the treetops to nest.

Yellow-billed stork breeding colony

(NB: All the remaining photos were taken from this same spot with my zoom, so some are not great.)

The males ran a non-stop delivery service of nesting materials: they are years ahead of Amazon’s drone fleet:

Yellow-billed stork breeding colony

When I was there, they were mainly nest-building and beak-clacking in their noisy courting rituals,

Yellow-billed stork breeding colony

but some seemed to have already found their mates:

Yellow-billed stork breeding colony

and this female was settling in, while her spouse stood sentinel:

Yellow-billed stork breeding colony

The German common name of this species is ‘Nimmersatt’, meaning ‘never full’, due to the eating habits of the nestling: it increases from 60 grams to 500 grams in weight within the first ten days of life. Imagine if a human baby increased 100-fold in ten days from 6lbs to 500lbs.. (There may be a Hollywood movie idea in there somewhere?)

The chicks must be both greedy and brave to eat food regurgitated from this fearsome naked red head and lethal bill

Yellow-billed stork breeding colony

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