Ugly Stork seeks feathered friend at Birdland

Cotswold Journal: (4519477) (4519477)

A GIANT stork which is believed to have the largest wingspan in the world, is looking for a new mate.

The massive male marabou stork, which lives at Birdland, in Bourton, recently lost his 17-year-old female partner and now keepers are keen to find him a new girlfriend.

Also known as the ‘undertaker bird’ due to its slow walk, cloak-like wings, thin white legs and mass of white hair-like feathers, the marabou stork come from sub-Saharan Africa.

The storks feed mainly on carrion in the wild but can take adult flamingos, as well as fish and insects. Birdland’s male has even been seen catching large trout from the river which runs through its aviary.

“They’re certainly not the most attractive of birds, they mostly eat rotting meat and they do have the rather unfortunate habit of urinating down their own legs to keep themselves cool,” said Alistair Keen, Head Keeper.

“However I’m sure none of this would put off another marabou and we’re hoping to find him a suitable suitor soon."

With a wingspan of three metres, or close to 12 feet, recorded, it makes the marabou stork a rival in size to the Andean condor and there are reports of birds measuring in excess of four metres – although this has not been independently verified.

Increasingly, marabous have become dependent on human garbage and hundreds of the huge birds can be found around African dumps or waiting for a hand out in urban areas.

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