We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Marabou Stork?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The marabou stork is a South African stork which famously produces a soft down which has been used to trim garments for centuries. Marabou storks are widely distributed across Southern Africa, in both wet and dry regions, and they are common subjects of interest among visitors to the region. In urban areas, the marabou stork is treated as a pest, as the bird can be quite obnoxious and messy.

This bird has a truly unique appearance. Some people refer to the marabou stork as the “undertaker bird,” in a reference to its dark upper plumage and its penchant for carrion. Like other storks, the marabou stork has long legs which facilitate wading, and because it is a carrion eater, it has a bald head, which tends to be bright red. The beak of the marabou stork is heavy and straight, designed for cracking apart carcasses, and the birds have a distinctive inflatable pink sac at their throats.

To say that the marabou stork has a remarkable appearance is being charitable; most people simply call them ugly. They are also extremely large, being among the largest of living land birds, with wingspans comparable to that of the condor. These African storks live in large, messy colonies, often sharing space with other bird species, creating a cacophany which is quite considerable.

In nature, the marabou stork is part of the system used to break down dead animals, returning the nutrients they contain to the earth. Along with scavengers like hyenas and vultures, the marabou stork pulls bodies apart, making it easier for smaller scavengers and bacteria to break the body down even further. This is where the bald head of the marabou stork comes in handy, as feathers would clot with blood and other materials during the bird's scavenging adventures.

In urban areas, the marabou stork can represent a problem. The birds are bold and intelligent, and they don't have much respect for municipal garbage collection. Throughout Southern Africa, these storks can be found tearing through garbage cans, scattering garbage in the streets, and they also wreak havoc in communities which lack organized garbage collections. In addition, like other scavengers, the marabou stork produces very pungent feces, making it a rather unpleasant bird to have around in inhabited areas.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.