Up to 30+ years in captivity.
Males & females are similar in color and appearance, with males slightly larger than females and with longer bills. Both have feathers gray in color with white tufts sticking out from back of head. Beak is tan in color and may have dark blotches. Legs are long and skinny, a characteristic typical of wading birds.
Behavior: The shoebill is a solitary species, rarely found in groups. Breeding pairs may be seen foraging on opposite ends of territory, but rarely together. Shoebills are often silent, but participate in “bill-clattering”, a behavior characteristic of storks. Adult shoebills use the behavior as a greeting at the nest, but young shoebills can be heard making this vocalization as well, in addition to a “hiccupping” voice when calling for food. Food permitting, shoebills are non-migratory. However in some regions, they can be found moving seasonally between feeding and nesting zones. Generally regarded as reluctant to fly, adult shoebills can be seen soaring on thermals over their territory. They can be found roosting in trees, but are more commonly found on the ground near water. They forage in shallow, aquatic environments, commonly surrounded by papyrus and grasses. If water is too deep, they will stand on a floating platform of vegetation. Walks slowly, then pounces beak-first with whole body at prey. Favorite foraging spots include waters low in oxygen, where fish must surface more often. Shoebills are very docile and tolerative of human presence.

credit Lowry Park Zoo

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Prize-winning photographer Anne Morrison Smyth grew up in Ripton, VT and in Cambridge, MA. She moved to Belchertown MA. in 1999 after living in Amherst for 30+ years, where she raised her four children. Anne’s love for wildernesses of all kinds informs her work with an intimate, unflinching celebration of the diverse small realities that create a larger truth.

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  • Marvin Collins
    Marvin Collinsabout 6 years ago

    Wow!! I’ve never even seen a photo of one of these, he has an evil grin. Wonderful shot!!!!

  • they look like Sci Fi characters to me – it is pretty evil isn’t it. Thanks for the comment.

    – Anne Smyth

  • melant1017
    melant1017about 6 years ago

    Very interesting looking bird you have here. Well done :)

  • thanks – they caught my eye because they were bill-clattering which is as strange as they are.

    – Anne Smyth

  • courier
    courierabout 6 years ago

    I just love your bird photos and I really appreciate the text. It makes it even more interesting.

  • thanks – you are always so kind. This bird was so odd but I wasn’t really able to get a closer shot of the bill, which is very elaborate.

    – Anne Smyth

  • brirose55
    brirose55about 6 years ago

    great job

  • thanks Brian.

    – Anne Smyth

  • Heather King
    Heather Kingover 2 years ago

    what a fascinating bird, great capture!!!

  • thank you, I appreciate your taking the time to make a comment

    – Anne Smyth

  • and, Heather, your Snowy Owls are magnificent

    – Anne Smyth

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