Balaenicipitidae Skull Replica 11 inches. Shoebill Skull is museum quality polyurethane cast. Made in USA. 2-part skull (separate cranium and jaw).
The Balaenicipitidae 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 Balaenicipitidae or Shoebill species is its huge, bulbous bill, which is straw-colored with erratic greyish markings.
The plumage of adult Balaenicipitidae or Shoebill birds is blue-grey with darker slaty-grey flight feathers. The breast presents some elongated feathers, which have dark shafts.
Shoebills are largely piscivorous but are assured predators of a considerable range of wetland vertebrates.
Preferred prey species have reportedly included marbled lungfish, African lungfish and Senegal bichir, and various Tilapia species and catfish.
Other prey eaten by this species has included frogs, water snakes, Nile monitors and baby crocodiles. More rarely, small turtles, snails, rodents, small waterfowl and carrion have reportedly been eaten.
Given its sharp-edged beak, huge bill, and wide gape, the shoebill can hunt large prey, often targeting prey bigger than is taken by other large wading birds. In the Bangweulu Swamps of Zambia, fish eaten by this species are commonly in the range of 5.9 to 19.7 in.
The main prey items fed to young Balaenicipitidae or Shoebill by the parents were the catfish Clarias gariepinus, and 20 to 24 in. long water snakes.
In Uganda, lungfish and catfish were mainly fed to the young. Larger lungfish and catfish were taken in Malagarasi wetlands in western Tanzania. During this study, fish around 24 to 31 in. were quite frequently taken and the largest fish caught by the shoebill was 99cm long.
Fish exceeding 60cm were usually cut into sections and swallowed at intervals. The entire process from scooping to swallowing ranged from 2 to 30 minutes depending on prey size. However, these large prey are relatively hard to handle and often targeted by African fish eagle, which frequently steal the Balaenicipitidae or Shoebill bird’s prey.
This species is considered to be one of the five most desirable birds in Africa by birdwatchers. They are docile with humans and show no threatening behavior.
Researchers were able to observe a bird on its nest at a close distance within 6 ft. Shoebills are often kept in zoos, but breeding is rarely reported. Shoebills have bred successfully at Pairi Daiza in Belgium and at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo in Florida.