When Shoebills Attack! Part II
Good morning, Mr. Shoebill! Let’s try this again…
How about a fish?
Guess not. A nice juicy rat?
It looks like a Ugandan standoff for the second time today. At least we got a look at the shoebill’s nearly eight foot wingspan. Let’s wade around to the other side of the island to see if Mrs. Shoebill is hungry…
The swan geese-endangered and native to parts of China, Mongolia, and Russia–certainly seem fascinated by the proceedings. Rubberneckers!
Looking lovely as ever, Mrs. Shoebill. Like a fish?
Hello? Anyone home?
Oh, I see– you’re trying to get a better look. When a shoebill draws its head down against its breast like that, it is enhancing the effect of its binocular vision.
Let’s try one of your favorites: a delicious white rat…
Good! At least someone has an appetite this morning. See how she draws the translucent nictitating membrane across her eye for protection? The nictitating membrane is sometimes called the third eyelid and moves horizontally across the eyeball via reflex. Shoebills shield their eyes this way when swallowing prey or even preening. Not a bad idea when your vision is paramount to your survival in the wild.
Look out, Mr. Shoebill has spotted us and he doesn’t approve. He expresses his displeasure by bowing, then shaking his huge head from side to side: ” No, no, no, no, no…”
Better hurry up and swallow that last rat. The shoebill is capable of swallowing its prey–lungfish, catfish, snakes, frogs, lizards, small mammals, even birds and baby crocodiles–whole. But it usually decapitates its catch first with the sharp edges of its bill.
Look out, he’s on the move again…
Shoebills also display by clattering their bills loudly within the span of a few seconds, a distinctive series of rapid, hollow pops–exactly like the sound of someone knocking two wooden shoes together very fast. We should definitely leave the island now.
Just in the nick of time…
And you thought dinosaurs were extinct.