name = Shoebill
status = VU | status_system = IUCN3.1
status_ref = [IUCN2006|assessors=BirdLife International|year=2006|id=2473|title=Balaeniceps rex|downloaded=11 May 2006 Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is vulnerable]
trend = down

image_width = 250px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Ciconiiformes or Pelecaniformes
familia = Balaenicipitidae
familia_authority = Bonaparte, 1853
genus = "Balaeniceps "
genus_authority = Gould, 1850
species = "B. rex"
binomial = "Balaeniceps rex"
binomial_authority = Gould, 1850

The Shoebill, "Balaeniceps rex", also known as Whalehead, is a very large bird related to the storks. It derives its name from its massive shoe-shaped bill.

The Shoebill is a very large bird. The adult is 115-150 cm (45-59 in) tall, 100-140 cm (40-55 in) long, 230-260 cm (91-103 in) across the wings and weighs 4 to 7 kg (8.8-15.5 lbs). [] [] The adult is mainly grey while the juveniles are browner. It lives in tropical east Africa in large swamps from Sudan to Zambia.

Ueno Zoo in Japan.]

This species was only discovered in the 19th century when some skins were brought to Europe. It was not until years later that live specimens reached the scientific community. However, the bird was known to both ancient Egyptians and Arabs. There are Egyptian images depicting the Shoebill, while the Arabs referred to the bird as "abu markub", which means "one with a shoe", a reference to the bird's distinctive bill.

Shoebills feed in muddy waters, preying on lungfish and similar fish. They nest on the ground and lay 2 eggs.

The population is estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals, the majority of which live in Sudan. BirdLife International have classified it as Vulnerable with the main threats being habitat destruction, disturbance and hunting.

The Shoebill is one of the bird taxa whose taxonomic treatment is murky. Traditionally allied with the storks (Ciconiiformes), it was retained there in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy which lumped a massive number of unrelated taxa into their "Ciconiiformes". More recently, the shoebill has been considered to be closer to the pelicans (based on anatomical comparisons; Mayr, 2003) or the herons (based on biochemical evidence; Hagey "et al.", 2002). The fossil record does not shed much light on the issue, as usual when dealing with birds. So far, two fossil relatives of the shoebill have been described: Goliathia from the early Oligocene of Egypt and Paludavis from the Early Miocene of the same country. It has been suggested that the enigmatic African fossil bird Eremopezus was a relative too, but the evidence for that is very spurious indeed. All that is known of "Eremopezus" is that it was a very large, probably flightless bird with a flexible foot, allowing it to handle either vegetation or prey.

World's first Shoebill in captivity was born in July 2008 at Parc Paradisio in Belgium.Fact|date=September 2008




* Hagey, J. R.; Schteingart, C. D.; Ton-Nu, H.-T. & Hofmann, A. F. (2002): A novel primary bile acid in the Shoebill stork and herons and its phylogenetic significance. "Journal of Lipid Research" 43(5): 685–690. [ PDF fulltext]
* Mayr, Gerald (2003): The phylogenetic affinities of the Shoebill ("Balaeniceps rex"). "Journal für Ornithologie" 144(2): 157-175. [English with German abstract] [ HTML abstract]

External links

* []
* ARKive - [ images and movies of the Shoebill "(Balaeniceps rex)"]
* [ BirdLife Species Factsheet]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shoebill — Shoe bill , n. (Zo[ o]l.) A large African wading bird ({Bal[ae]niceps rex}) allied to the storks and herons, and remarkable for its enormous broad swollen bill. It inhabits the valley of the White Nile. See Illust. (l.) of {Beak}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • shoebill — [sho͞o′bil΄] n. a large wading bird (Balaeniceps rex), the only member of its family (Balaenicipitidae), with long legs and a heavy, shoelike bill: found along the White Nile in central Africa …   English World dictionary

  • shoebill — /shooh bil /, n. a large, African, storklike bird, Balaeniceps rex, having a broad, flattened bill shaped somewhat like a shoe. [1870 75; SHOE + BILL2] * * * ▪ bird also called  shoe billed stork  or  whale headed stork        large African… …   Universalium

  • shoebill — klumpiasnapiai statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Balaeniceps angl. shoebill vok. Schuhschnabel, m rus. китоглав, m; королевская цапля, f pranc. bec en sabot, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – klumpiasnapiniai siauresnis… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • shoebill — klumpiasnapis statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Balaeniceps rex angl. shoebill vok. Schuhschnabel, m rus. китоглав, m; королевская цапля, f pranc. bec en sabot du Nil, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – klumpiasnapiai …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • shoebill — klumpiasnapiniai statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Balaenicipitidae angl. shoebill vok. Schuhschnäbel rus. китоглавовые pranc. balénicipitidés ryšiai: platesnis terminas – gandriniai paukščiai siauresnis terminas –… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • shoebill — noun Date: 1861 a large gray wading bird (Balaeniceps rex) related to the storks and herons that inhabits wetlands of eastern Africa and has a thick broad bill …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • shoebill — noun /ˈʃu.bɪl/lang=en A tall wading bird related to the stork, native to tropical African swamps …   Wiktionary

  • shoebill — n. species of African bird related to the stork …   English contemporary dictionary

  • shoebill — noun an African stork with grey plumage and a very large bill shaped like a clog. [Balaeniceps rex.] …   English new terms dictionary

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