Saddlebill Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-25,000 individuals, roughly equating to 670-17,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The overall trend is suspected to be decreasing (Wetlands International 2006).


Behaviour There is no evidence that this species undertakes any regular long-distance migration (Hancock et al. 1992), although it is not altogether sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1992) as some populations make local nomadic movements to optimum foraging habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1992) during periods of drought or when large rivers are in flood (Hancock et al. 1992). Breeding starts late in the rains or in the dry season (del Hoyo et al. 1992), timed so that the young fledge at the height of the dry season when prey is concentrated and easier to obtain (Hancock et al. 1992). The species nests in solitary pairs and usually remains solitary when not breeding (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hancock et al. 1992), although it may occur in small family parties or in groups of up to 12 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Habitat It inhabits extensive fresh, brackish or alkaline wetlands (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005) in open, semi-arid areas (Hancock et al. 1992) and savanna (Hockey et al. 2005), with relatively high abundances of fish (Brown et al. 1982) and with large trees nearby for nesting and roosting (Hancock et al. 1992) (although it avoids deeply forested areas (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hancock et al. 1992)). Suitable habitats include shallow freshwater marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hancock et al. 1992), wet grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1992), the margins of large or small rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hancock et al. 1992), lake shores (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hancock et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005), pans (Hockey et al. 2005) and flood-plains (Hancock et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of fish 15-30 cm long (Hancock et al. 1992) up to 500 g in weight, as well as crabs, shrimps, frogs, reptiles, small mammals, young birds, molluscs and insects (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. large water beetles, termite alates (Hockey et al. 2005)). Breeding site The nest is a large flat platform of sticks (del Hoyo et al. 1992) placed up to 20-30m (Hancock et al. 1992) in a tree near water isolated from other trees and sources of disturbance (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It may also nest on cliffs (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hancock et al. 1992) and in the abandoned nests of other bird species (Hancock et al. 1992).


The species is vulnerable to disturbance and to wetland degradation (e.g. pesticide contamination) and conversion to agriculture (del Hoyo et al. 1992).


Text account compilers
Malpas, L., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis. Downloaded from on 19/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 19/10/2021.