Marabou stork couchant


A trip to Beijing inevitably means a trip to the zoo given that it is opposite the IVPP and costs only a couple of dollars to get in. This time I was on a mission with Corwin Sullivan to look at a variety of birds for some anatomical and behavioural things we are interested in. One thing that did stand out by not standing up was the marabou storks. These are normally quite happy to stand as most wading a long-legged birds do – one one of both legs with the neck rather hunched up to the body (standing marabou above, obviously). However, three of them had adopted a sitting position on the ground far more like a chicken or duck than anything else.

Colour me ignorant, but I’ve never seen this in a bird of this size or this kind and while I can imagine them doing it on a nest perhaps they really seemed to just be resting. Is this common and I’ve simply missed it, or is this genuinely a bit odd?


4 Responses to “Marabou stork couchant”

  1. 1 Brian 13/03/2011 at 9:23 am

    I used to be a regular visitor to the zoo of Rotterdam and the marabous there often did the same. It’s indeed a weird sight because the legs seem to completely disappear.
    I did get the impression they did it either to rest or to warm themselves during colder weather. Like you,I’ve never seen any other longlegged wader adopt this position either.
    Apparently, it’s something odd about marabous. It might even be limited to African marabous. I’ve never seen any of the other species so I couldn’t say.

    • 2 David Hone 14/03/2011 at 12:23 am

      That’s interesting thanks. I’ve seen these individuals several times before and this is the first time I’ve seen this behaviour from them. It was a relatively warm day when that was taken, but I could buy them doing it to keep warm. Still, seems a bit counterintunitive as it then places much of them in contact with a cold surface rather than just exposing one leg.

  2. 3 Blake Simpson 15/06/2011 at 3:22 am

    In heraldry, wouldn’t this be a “Marabou Stork Rampant”? I thought “couchant” meant a reposing or reclining (lion, gryphon, whatever). The Marabou stork actually made its way into a silly song my daughter and I made up last night, but that’s another story.

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