The Undertaker and his cohort

Michael and I have always loved to watch birds.   When we lived in Lubbock, Texas we would travel to Palo Duro canyon and try to catch a glimpse of an eagle in flight and then try to photograph it.  Consequently, we have TONS of old photos with a TINY dot in the center!!!

When we lived in Australia, we were in heaven with the parrots that surrounded us each day.  The first night in our duplex, we chased a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo around the neighborhood only to discover that its nest was in our back yard.   I am sure that the neighbors were thrilled!!!

Here in Mozambique, we have been presented with an entirely new set of avians.

One morning I saw a flash of red in the trees and asked Dylan about it.  He told me that it was a Southern Ground Hornbill…

They are the size of a turkey with a large curved beak and a huge wingspan!!!

We have also seen many White-Backed Vultures…..

….and have seen them in action on a buffalo carcass…..

But the birds that have captured my imagination are the storks.  I have NEVER seen a stork in the wild and Dylan has found several that were close enough for photography…. I am in HEAVEN!!!

The first that we found was the Maribu Stork…..

As I photographed and filmed this amazing bird, Dylan told us more about them.    They call it “The Undertaker” and it is closely associated with death.  The upper part of their beak has fine, serrated teeth and Dylan said they are so sharp that you could use them to slice bread.

Because of these teeth, they can easily open an elephant’s super-tough skin and none of the other birds can do that.  Apparently, the vultures will circle a dead elephant and wait for the Maribu to feed first and open the skin, and then they will begin their feast.

I enjoyed watching the stork walk around in the swampy land and when viewed from the side, I think that he looks like an old man walking slowly with his head jutted forward and his hands held behind his back… know… an undertaker!!!

The second stork that I have been able to study is the “Saddle-Billed” Stork and I recently posted that I was planning a quilt featuring one of these birds.

I feel sure that you will be sick of them before I finish this trip diary, but here goes….

I was first introduced to these amazing birds when we were in the flood plains on our first trip…..

…and then Dylan spotted a lone stork as we were driving along…..

The male stork has a yellow wattle and a dark iris while the female has a yellow iris.  Since this particular bird had a dark iris but no yellow wattle, Dylan determined that it was a young undeveloped male. 

Although you can’t see it in the photo, they have red knees!!

Enough for today. Come back tomorrow for more of the Avians of the Marromeu Complex!!

5 thoughts on “The Undertaker and his cohort

  1. Very interesting! We spent time ar Palo Duro 2 years ago and cannot wait to return. Now, we enjoy occasional trips to the Montezuma Preserve near us in NY. Not many, but eagles do frequent there. You’ve had some wonderful experiences.!

    1. We were at school in Lubbock and Michael was mad about backpacking so we spent a fair amount of time there!! And yes, we LOVE our lives!!! But, yours sounds pretty fun right now too!!

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