Unique & Remarkable – Shoebills

Sometimes you need something remarkable to capture kids’ interest, especially towards the end of the school year. Few kids cannot help being fascinated by the goofy-looking shoebill. Shoebills are a unique prehistoric-looking tall bird with a large beak resembling a Dutch clog. The beak is perfect for catching and carrying large fish. Shoebills make clattering hollow noises but most of the time they are silent. This unique bird sounds like a machine gun!

They have large wings and are one of the slowest birds –  they flap their wings about 150 times per minute. The powerful wings help them to launch themselves into the air. They are rather heavy birds but once they are in the air they soar comfortably. The shoebills’ feet are exceptionally large, and the large feet help the birds to stand on aquatic vegetation while hunting. The large feet also help them to launch themselves out of the water with a powerful leap. This might spark some ideas for creating a flying device!

Shoebills are endangered species so it is also a great opportunity to add this bird to a project about endangered animals. The number of shoebills is declining because of the effects of habitat destruction and degrading, pollution, hunting, and capture for the live bird trade. Writing a report about this very large long-legged wading bird is a great way to challenge kids’ observation skills. Looking for unique features and exploring ways to use these features to solve problems is a great way to not only ignite an interest in preserving our natural world but also to be creative.

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