Ciconiiformes Skull Replica or Marabou Stork Skull Replica measures 14.1 inches. Marabou Stork Skull Replica is museum quality polyurethane cast. 2-part skull (separate cranium & jaw). Made in USA. Cast from California Academy of Sciences specimen.

The Marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae native to sub-Saharan Africa.

The Marabou stork is a massive bird: large specimens are thought to reach a height of 4.99 feet and a weight of 20 lb. A wingspan of 12 ft. was accepted by Fisher and Peterson, who ranked the species as having the largest wing-spread of any living bird.

In addition to hollow leg bones, Marabou storks have hollow toe bones. In such a large bird, this is an important adaptation for flight.

The Ciconiiformes or Marabou stork is unmistakable due to its size, bare head and neck, black back, and white underparts. It has a huge bill, a pink gular sac at its throat, a neck ruff, white legs and black wings.

They can also send a message by filling up their gular sacs with air to warn other animals to back off.

A gular sac is made of featherless skin that connects the bottom of the beak, or bill, and the neck together. It is also known as a throat sac.

The Marabou stork is a frequent scavenger, and the naked head and long neck are adaptations to this livelihood, as it is with the vultures with which the stork often feeds.

This large and powerful bird eats mainly carrion, scraps, and faeces but will opportunistically eat almost any animal matter it can swallow.

It occasionally eats other birds including Quelea nestlings, pigeons, doves, pelican and cormorant chicks, and even flamingos.

During the breeding season, adults scale back on carrion and take mostly small, live prey since nestlings need this kind of food to survive.

Common prey at this time may consist of fish, frogs, insects, eggs, small mammals and reptiles such as crocodile hatchlings and eggs, lizards and snakes.

Though known to eat putrid and seemingly inedible foods, these storks may sometimes wash food in water to remove soil.

When feeding on carrion, Marabou frequently follow vultures, which are better equipped with hooked bills for tearing through carrion meat and may wait for the vultures to cast aside a piece, steal a piece of meat directly from the vulture or wait until the vultures are done.

As with vultures, marabou storks perform an important natural function by cleaning areas via their ingestion of carrion and waste.

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.

Marabous eating human garbage have been seen to devour virtually anything that they can swallow, including shoes and pieces of metal.

The species is not globally threatened and the population is suspected to be increasing, due to large availability of waste and carrion as food resources.

Ciconiiformes or Marabou stork breeds in both wet and arid habitats, often near human habitation, especially landfill sites.

Like most storks, the Marabou is gregarious and a colonial breeder. In the African dry season (when food is more readily available as the pools shrink), it builds a tree nest in which two or three eggs are laid.

Eggs hatch after an incubation period of 30 days. Their young reach sexual maturity at 4 years of age.

Lifespan is 43 years in captivity and 25 years in wild. It is known to be quite ill-tempered. Fully grown Marabou storks have few natural enemies, and have high annual survival rate, though lions have reportedly preyed on some individuals in ambush.

A number of endoparasites have been identified in wild Marabous including Cheilospirura, Echinura, Acuaria nematodes, Amoebotaenia sphenoidesand Dicrocoelium hospes.

It also resembles other storks in that it is not very vocal, but indulges in bill-rattling courtship displays. The throat sac is also used to make various noises at that time.

It is sometimes called the “undertaker bird” due to its shape from behind: cloak-like wings and back, skinny white legs, and sometimes a large white mass of “hair”.