Friday 25 November 2011

Greater Adjutant

Image: Wikipedia
The Greater Adjutant is a huge, shockingly unattractive stork from parts of India and south-east Asia. Being a close relative of Africa's Marabou Stork, it seems this particular brand of ugly has gone global!

When you think 'stork' you might imagine a large, tall, white bird with sexy, long legs and a sexy, long bill.

It's probably striding through an idyllic scene, all peacefully shimmering lakes, the sun gazing down in admiration as a dozen of these noble creatures accentuate the serenity with a splash of fishing. They'll be just like one of those weird vegetarians who eat lots of fish.

You probably wouldn't think of the Greater Adjutant.

Balding and hunch-backed. Face dominated by a deeply unsettling bill. Body covered in dingy whites and greys. In fact, the whitest thing on this creature are the legs, and that's because they're covered in their own droppings. Helps with keeping their temperature under control. Apparently. And I thought waving a piece of paper at your face was a tad desperate.

Standing proud, King of the Trash, Ruler of the Rubbish, Guard of the Garbage, the Greater Adjutant reigns in Hell. Everyone else pretty much leaves them to it, as if to say "err... well done you."

Image: yathin via Flickr
They really are massive birds, averaging out at 150 cm (60 in) tall, with a 250 cm (99 in) wingspan. The bill is over 30 cm (12 in) long, a size bettered only by some pelicans.

With this they can secure their meaty food, such as fish, frogs, crustaceans, reptiles and even ducks that are swallowed whole. Such is their diet in the lakes, swamps, paddy fields and stagnant ponds they call home.

But Adjutant Storks also fly with powerful wings and can ride the rising thermals like a vulture. This lets them scavenge for carrion, which explains why they're bald like a vulture, too. And, as you've probably guessed, they also hang around rubbish dumps seeking out food amongst the filth.

You may also notice a large, utterly disgusting and rather testicular sack hanging from the Greater Adjutant's throat. It looks like it could be used for storing food, but that's not the case since it isn't connected to any digestive stuff. It's inflatable to some extent and turns bright orange during the breeding season, drawing attention to that which really shouldn't.

Greater Adjutants build their nests out of bamboo and line them with leaves for comfort. These nests are basically platforms built at the end of horizontal tree branches, with lots of space above for taking to the air.

I'm pretty sure the youngsters have a face only a mother could love. Which is fine because the mother has a face only her children could love.

Image: Dr. Fitz! via Flickr
Interests include killing, corpses, long walks at the swamp, hanging out with my friends at the rubbish dump and collecting the souls of mortals.


TexWisGirl said...

umm. yeah. not so pretty, this one...

Joseph JG said...

Lovely blue eyes, though!

Crunchy said...

Yeeeeuch. (that's a technical term)

Joseph JG said...

Birds are seldom really, really disgusting. It's wonderful to find one that can pull up so much slack!