Marabou, the popular name of several large birds of the stork family, of the genus leptop-tilus (Lesson), natives of Asia and Africa, whose delicate vent feathers were formerly highly esteemed as ornaments. The L. argala (Lath.), the Asiatic, marabou or adjutant, has no equal in size except the jabiru and ostrich: the length from the point of the bill to the claws is 7 1/2 ft., and the expanse of wings i-nearly 15 ft,; it stands 5 ft. high. The hill is about 2 ft. long, straight, strong, and sharp-pointed; the wings long and ample, the tail moderate and broad, tarsi strong, and toes long, the anterior webbed at the base. The head and neck are nearly bare of feathers, and in front of the neck hangs a pouch or dewlap several inches long and capable of considerable distention. The bill is yellowish white, and its gape is such that it can swallow whole an animal as large as a cat; front of the neck yellowish, back of neck reddish with a few hairy warty excrescences; the back and wing coverts deep bluish ash, wings dusky, breast and belly dusky white; the feathers of the sides beneath the wings, and those of the vent and under tail coverts, are whitish, downy, about 12 in. long, and so light and delicab to command a high price for ladies' head dresses; a feather a foot long and 7 in. wide weighs only 8 grains.
It is common in Bengal, and by the natives each is believed to he possessed by the soul of a Brahman; by the English it is called adjutant from its resemblance at a distance to an officer with white waistcoat and breeches. Its voracity is extreme, exercised upon anything which comes in its way, from offal fish, and reptiles, to birds and quadropeds, and even to the cooked meats of the natives; its services are valuable as a scavenger and its presence is encouraged; it has oven been domesticated. In the wild state, they live in small flocks near the mouths of rivers; their power of flight is great, and their vision very keen. A smaller species (L. maraTenim.) occurs in tropical Africa, assisting the vultures in consuming the tilth of the ne-gro villages; it is more ugly, if possible, than The Asiatic bird, and its delicate plumes are equally valued; marabou is the native African name.Other species are described, with similar characters.
Marabou (Leptoptilus marabou).