Balaeniceps Rex Skull Replica 11 inches. Shoebill Skull is museum quality polyurethane cast. Made in USA. 2-part skull (separate cranium and jaw).
The Balaeniceps Rex or Shoebill is a tall bird, with a typical height range of 43 to 55 in. and some specimens reaching as much as 60 in.
Length from tail to beak can range from 39 to 55 in. and wingspan is 7 ft 7 in to 8 ft 6 in. Weight has reportedly ranged from 8.8 to 15.4 lb.
The signature feature of the Balaeniceps Rex or Shoebill species is its huge, bulbous bill, which is straw-colored with erratic greyish markings.
As in the pelicans, the upper mandible is strongly keeled, ending in a sharp nail. The dark colored legs are fairly long, with a tarsus length of 8.5 to 10.0 in.
The Balaeniceps Rex or Shoebill’s feet are exceptionally large, with the middle toe reaching 6.6 to 7.3 in. in length, likely assisting the species in its ability to stand on aquatic vegetation while hunting.
The neck is relatively shorter and thicker than other long-legged wading birds such as herons and cranes. The wings are broad, with a wing chord length of 23.1 to 30.7 in., and well-adapted to soaring.
The plumage of adult Balaeniceps Rex or Shoebill birds is blue-grey with darker slaty-grey flight feathers. The breast presents some elongated feathers, which have dark shafts.
The Balaeniceps Rex or Shoebill is distributed in freshwater swamps of central tropical Africa, from southern Sudan and South Sudan through parts of eastern Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, western Tanzania and northern Zambia.
The distribution of Balaeniceps Rex or Shoebill species seems to largely coincide with that of papyrus and lungfish. They are often found in areas of flood plain interspersed with undisturbed papyrus and reedbeds.
When Shoebill storks are in an area with deep water, a bed of floating vegetation is a requirement. They are also found where there is poorly oxygenated water. This causes the fish living in the water to surface for air more often, increasing the likelihood a Shoebill stork will successfully capture it.
The solitary nature of shoebills extends to their breeding habits. Nests typically occur at less than three nests per square kilometre, unlike herons, cormorants, pelicans and storks which predominantly nest in colonies.
The breeding pair of Balaeniceps Rex or Shoebills vigorously defends a territory of 0.77 to 1.54 sq mi. from conspecifics. In the extreme north and south of the species’ range, nesting starts right after the rains end.
In more central regions of the range, it may nest near the end of the wet season in order for the eggs to hatch around the beginning of the following wet season.
Both Balaeniceps Rex or Shoebill parents engage in building the nest on a floating platform after clearing out an area of approximately 9.8 ft. across. The large, flattish nesting platform is often partially submerged in water and can be as much as 9.8 ft deep.
The nest itself is about 3.3 to 5.6 ft. wide. Both the nest and platform are made of aquatic vegetation. From one to three white eggs are laid. These eggs measure 3.1 to 3.5 in. high by 2.2 to 2.4 in. and weigh around 5.8 oz.