The Undertaker

Maribou stork (photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim via Wikimedia Commons)

Except for the beak this bird looks like a scruffy character from a Dickens novel.

The Marabou stork is not improved by close approach.  I’ve seen one at a zoo:  five feet tall and surprisingly ugly with rusty feathers, skinny legs, fuzzy bare head, and a dirty-looking bill.

His bill doesn’t just look dirty.  It is dirty because he eats carrion and garbage.

And though he’s gregarious and nests in colonies, he’s known to be “quite ill-tempered” in the breeding season.

In Africa this stork follows vultures to dead animals and stands hunched waiting for the vultures to rip open the carcass and make an opening so the stork can dine.

He’s aptly named the Undertaker Bird.

(photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim via Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

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