Shoebills, which live in the swamps of eastern tropical Africa. They eat big fish like lungfish, eels, and catfish, and also crazy stuff like Nile monitor lizards, snakes, and baby crocodiles. This bird eats crocodiles!
And they hunt like total bosses of the swamp. The Shoebill will stand there, motionless as a statue, and wait for some poor lungfish or baby crocodile to swim by. Then the bird will pounce forward, all five feet of it, with its massive bill wide open, engulfing its target along with water, mud, vegetation, and probably any other hapless fish minding their own business. Clamping down on its prey, the bird will start to swing its massive head back and forth, tipping out whatever stuff it doesn’t want to eat. When there’s nothing but lungfish or crocodile left, the Shoebill will give it a quick decapitation with the sharp edges of the bill (because of course it does) and swallow away.
Sound terrifying? Yeah, it is. But it’s also impossible not to be impressed by these giants. Shoebills have been a beloved species for a long time. They appear in the artwork of the ancient Egyptians. Arabs reportedly called the bird Abu-Markhub, or “father of a slipper” (just can’t get away from that shoe imagery). So, anything cool about the bill other than that it’s gigantic, looks like footwear, and can decapitate crocodiles? Sure: It makes awesome machine-gun noises. Shoebills are silent most of the time but engage in “bill-clattering” around the nest or when greeting another bird. It’s loud and scary and the last sound that lots of poor monitor lizards ever hear.
Vulnerable (IUCN 3.1)
The shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) also known as whalehead, is a very large stork-like bird. It derives its name from its enormous shoe-shaped bill. It has a somewhat stork-like overall form and has previously been classified with the storks in the order Ciconiiformes based on this morphology.