Adjutant Stork, a bird of Asia and Africa. The name adjutant comes from the stiff, erect walk of these storks, which resembles that of a military officer. Two species, the greater adjutant stork and the lesser adjutant stork, are found in central India and southeastern Asia; a third, the African adjutant stork (or marabou stork), in tropical Africa. The African adjutant's long, thin undertail feathers, called marabou, are used for trimming garments.
The African adjutant and the greater adjutant are about three feet (90 cm) tall and have a wingspan of from six to eight feet (1.8 to 2.4 m). The lesser adjutant is somewhat smaller. All adjutant storks have long, thin legs; dark-gray backs; and white undersides. An adjutant's head and neck are pinkish in color, and either naked or covered with sparse down. From the neck hangs a naked sac that is part of the respiratory system. The bill is thick and about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Adjutant storks eat carrion (dead flesh) and small animals.
Adjutants nest in colonies in groups of trees or on cliff ledges. They build shallow nests of sticks in which they lay two or three rough-shelled, white eggs.
Adjutant storks form the genus Leptoptilos of the stork family, Ciconiidae. The greater adjutant is L. dubius; the lesser adjutant, L. javanicus; the African adjutant, L. crumeniferus.