Video shows Futaba-chan’s polished manners.

The shoebill can be a very unnerving animal. Native to East Africa, the birds can grow to heights of over 150 centimeters (59 inches), with wide wingspans and what look like impossibly long, thin legs. But what really has the potential to be unsettling is how still and silent shoebills can be, standing like statues with expressions that seem to be intensely evaluating you and, because of the bulging contours of their foreheads, not particularly pleased with what they see.

But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a friendly side, and proving that is Futaba-chan, the resident shoebill at Kakegawa Kachouen (Kakegawa Flower and Bird Garden) in Shizuoka Prefecture.

In a video recently shared on Kakegawa Kachouen’s Facebook page, we see Futaba-chan emerging from the back of her habitat and clattering her bill. As she gets closer to the fence, she spreads her wings and bows her head multiple times. At first it looks like she might be trying to nibble on the leaves of the plants directly in front of her, but she never takes a bite, because this whole display is actually for someone on the other side of the fence.

Futaba-chan’s behavior, the clattering and bowing, is how shoebills attempt to attract mates or communicate with other shoebills they have a friendly relationship with. Basically, it’s their version of a warmhearted hello, and just out of frame is a member of Kakegawa Kachouen’s cleaning staff, who’s getting a courteous morning greeting from Futaba-chan at the start of the workday.

The fact that Futaba-chan’s way of resembles the respectful bowing that takes place in the morning at Japanese offices and schools has made the whole thing all the more endearing to Japanese online commenters. “Making sure to say good-morning to the cleaning staff…how courteous of her!” wrote one of the many people impressed by the bird’s etiquette. “I have to follow her example.”

Now if only someone could arrange a meeting between Futaba-chan and the bowing deer of Nara, to help make the world an even more polite/adorable place.

Related: Kakegawa Kachouen official website
Source, images: Facebook/掛川花鳥園
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[ Read in Japanese ]