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(species Balaeniceps rex), large African wading bird, a single species that constitutes the family Balaenicipitidae (order Ciconiiformes). Shoebills stand about 115 cm (3.5 feet) tall. They are entirely gray, with broad wings and long legs. The head is large in proportion to the body, and the bill is wide and thick, shaped as the bird's name implies. Shoebills fly with the head held back against the body, as do herons and pelicans. They eat small fishes and other aquatic animals. They nest on the ground and lay either one or two eggs. Shoebills inhabit swampy regions in and around the White Nile area of northeastern Africa