Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Post number 16 Birds from Southern Africa

I have been away for the past week so just a short post to let you know that I am back.  We are very busy with a number of jobs that are doing here at home at the moment. These are photos again taken by my friend, Christelle Miller, while in the Kruger national park in May 2018.
Thanks go to Christelle for allowing me to use these photos on my blog.

I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.

The Lilac Breasted Roller, (Coracias Caudata).  See my photos for details on this bird on the previous post.

African jacana (Actophilornis africanus) is a wader in the family Jacanidae, identifiable by long toes and long claws that enable them to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes,  which is their preferred habitat....

It feeds on aquatic insects and larvae, worms, snails and other arthropods. It may take seeds sometimes when it forages on open cultivated areas. To avoid predators, it can swim underwater, and in the same situation, the chicks can stay underwater for a moment with only the bill tip above the surface, and they swim as well as the adults. The mating system of the African Jacana is reversed. The male performs all the nesting duties while the female has access to several males and defends the territories against other females.

Brown Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinereu). It lives in savannahs, woodlands and dry wooded countries with tall trees. It is uncommon in open plains. It feeds on snakes and other reptiles, carrying them by the head while flying. It spends most of its time perched in trees, performing short flights from one tree to another, and hunting from these perches. Prey is always taken on the ground, often by dropping on it from a perch....

The nest is made with small sticks and lined with some green leaves. Birds may return to the same tree and rebuild a nest after some years.  The female lays only one white egg. Incubation lasts about 47 to 50 days, by the female. She flattens in the nest if an intruder approaches, becoming almost invisible. The male feeds her at the nest.


Linking up to 

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Post number 15 Birds from Southern Africa

As with the last couple of posts,  these are photos taken by my friend, Christelle Miller, while in the Kruger national park in May 2018.
Thanks go to Christelle for allowing me to use these photos on my blog.
I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) are wading birds that favour areas like marshes, dams, lakes, lagoons, rivers and reservoirs. They can be found throughout South Africa, as well as in many parts of Europe and Asia....


This heron is happy to eat whatever fish, crustaceans and other animals it can find in the water in which it wades. Its diet includes various fish species, eels, lizards, worms, small snakes, frogs and little birds.  It is a sociable bird and will nest with a sizeable group of other individuals. 


It is a monogamous bird that will likely stick to an established heron nesting area, set up by previous generations in their natural habitat. These are called heronries. The female usually lays between three and six eggs during autumn or in the early part of winter. The male and female take turns to incubate these eggs for almost four weeks before they hatch.


The Lilac Breasted Roller, (Coracias Caudata), is a heavy-billed, beautifully coloured bird with a green head, lilac throat and breast, a blue belly and even brighter blue wing feathers. Both sexes have the same colouration. The species is found throughout Eastern and Southern Africa.....    


All rollers, including the lilac breasted rollers, are highly territorial. They are also thought to be monogamous. The species make their nests in tree holes, as well as in termite mounds. They may also make use of unoccupied or abandoned woodpecker or kingfisher’s nest holes. Both males and females incubate the 2 – 4 eggs which are laid.....   

Food is mainly insects such as grasshoppers and large beetles, scorpions, snails and occasionally lizards.

Saddle-billed stork, (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) a truly beautiful bird that is sadly very threatened with numbers dropping every year.  They are the largest of the African storks and can be up to 1.8 metres (6 ft) tall. Their wingspan is up to 2.8 metres (9) feet. They can weigh up to 6kg (20lbs).  They like to eat grasshoppers, frogs, fish, crabs, molluscs, lizards, and young birds.
They lay one to two eggs at a time. The incubation period is 30 to 35 days. The mating pair takes turns taking care of the young birds until they are fledged – about 70 to 100 days after hatching.

Swainson's francolin, Swainson's spurfowl, or chikwari (Pternistis swainsonii).  It is usually seen in small parties in fairly open country. It eats seeds, berries, shoots, bulbs, insects and molluscs. It is monogamous unless its mate dies. The nesting habit is to create a nest on the ground. The bird lays eggs which are pink in colour and number between 3 to 12.

Note: I will be away next week so I will miss a post.


Linking up to 

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Post number 14 Birds from Southern Africa

As with the last post, this is a little different, as again these are photos taken by a friend, Christelle Miller, while in the Kruger national park in May 2018.
Thanks go to Christelle for allowing me to use these photos on my blog.
I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.

 Martial Eagle (Polemaetus Bellicosus).... 

 They are the largest of the African eagles and incredibly powerful, capable of knocking an adult man off his feet. They reputedly have enough power in one foot to break a man's arm....

The Martial eagle weighs in at almost 14 pounds (6.5 Kg.) and has a wingspan of about 6 feet 4 inches. It is about 32 inches long.

Burchell's Coucal, (Centropus burchellii). Also known as the rain bird.  Their diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws.... 

The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw and leaves. The nest is placed under a bush to protect the young from predators. Fairly common in South Africa.

Southern Pale chanting goshawk (Melierax canorus); they can be found throughout their range in arid habitats with less than 75 cm of rainfall per year. These habitats include the Namib Desert and other dry woodland, shrubland, and grassland areas. Pale chanting goshawks are often seen perching on trees and poles for power lines near the roads.  It sits upright on its long legs when perched on a tree. It is often seen walking about on the ground. It can run very fast when pursuing a prey. But it also hunts from a perch. When prey is selected, it dives and runs after it. It also performs agile aerial chases after birds or hares running on the ground.  It is found singly or in pairs. Pairs have a well-defined territory and usually stay in and around the same group of trees. When breeding season starts, the male performs some displays. It perches on the top of a tall tree and utters its melodious call, often for hours. Both mates can soar together, making circles at about 200 to 300 feet in the sky. They also perform an undulating flight display while calling.

The Hadada or Hadeda ibis (Bostrychia hagedash). It has a distinctively loud, penetrating and recognisable haa-haa-haa-de-dah call that is often heard when the birds are flying or when startled, hence the name.  It feeds mainly on earthworms, using its long scimitar-like bill to probe soft soil. It also eats larger insects, such as the Parktown Prawn, as well as spiders and small lizards. These birds also favour snails and will feed in garden beds around residential homes. It nests in isolation, sometimes on telegraph poles instead of trees or bushes. Males display and eventually choose a mate. The pairs then engage in mutual bowing and display preening. Males usually gather nest materials, which they ritually offer to their mates. Both sexes incubate the three to six eggs and feed the young.


Southern red-billed hornbill (Tockus rufirostris). This bird forms flocks outside the breeding season. It feeds mainly on small insects such as beetles, ants, termites, flies and grasshoppers, but it also eats larger arthropods, birds' eggs and nestlings also small seeds and fruits. The Red-billed Hornbill does most of its foraging on the ground, rarely hawking prey aerially.

During the incubation (brooding of the eggs), the nest entrance is typically blocked off with a plaster of mud, droppings and fruit pulp. The purpose for this is to keep the nest, including the brooding female, eggs and young chicks protected from predators, usually 3-5 eggs. A narrow opening is left to allow the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks. See Here.

Hornbills are unique in that their first two neck vertebrae have been fused to support their large bill.


Linking up to 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Post no 13 on Birds from Southern Africa.

This post is a little different, as these are photos taken by a friend Christelle Miller, while in the Kruger national park in May 2018. A few also from Mahikeng on their return from Kruger.
Thanks go to Christelle for allowing me to use these photos on my blog.
I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.
Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) The largest of the kingfishers. It is monogamous unless its mate dies. In the event of a partner dying it will seek out a new mate. It creates its nest in a hole in the ground and lays eggs which are white in colour and number between 3 to 5. The Giant Kingfisher feeds in, or around water mainly, eating aquatic life forms.  Kruger.

Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris). It is a bird about the same size as a starling. The height is about 24 cms and its weight is about 60 gms. Also monogamous unless its mate dies; and again, the nest is a hole in the ground. Preferred habitat; woodlands and riverine areas or along wetlands. Kruger.

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) is a medium size bird living close to water...

Studies show that it has a complex behaviour. It may have several non-breeding birds as helpers, up to four. They sometimes are the young of the previous year, but they may be completely exterior to the pairing family...

Hovering in preparation for diving into the water for food.  Kruger.


Malachite Kingfisher ( Alcedo cristata). This small bird it is about 14 cms in height and its weight is about 17 gms. It feeds in, or around water, mainly on Aquatic life forms. Also monogamous unless its mate dies, and as in the first two kingfishers posted here, it nests in a hole in the ground.  Kruger.


Crested Barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii). A small bird about 23 cms in height and its weight is about 80 gms. Its diet is mainly Invertebrates and fruits....

Another bird that is monogamous unless its mate dies. They create the nest in a hole in a tree trunk. The bird lays eggs which are white in colour and number between 2 to 5.  Garden in Mahikeng.

Marico Sunbird (Cinnyris mariquensis) female. It feeds mainly on nectar and arthropods, gleaning prey from foliage and hawking insects aerially.  As you can see here though it is also eating fruit...

The nest is built solely by the female in about 6-12 days, consisting of a compact, pear-shaped structure built of dry grass reinforced with spider web, with a side-top entrance covered by a hood of grass stems. It is usually camouflaged using dark material. 1-3 eggs are laid which are incubated solely by the female for about 13-15 days. The chicks are fed solely by the female, but once they fledge, both parents continue to feed them for weeks after. Garden in Mahikeng.

Speckled Mousebird (Colius striata).  It is a noisy species, with loud warning calls. It avoids arid regions and dense woodlands, but is quite common in other places, including suburban gardens. Often seen in groups of up to 20 birds. This species lives in flocks all year round, including the breeding season. It feeds mainly on plant matter such as fruits, buds, flowers and leaves. It also consumes nectar. It often damages orchards and plantations, eating cultivated fruits and flowers. It is monogamous and may have helpers. The nest is situated in tree or bush, at 2 to 3 metres above the ground. Garden in Mahikeng


Linking to 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Post number 12 on birds seen in Southern Africa


Black-collared Barbet (Lybius torquatus). The photo was taken by my friend Christelle in her garden in Mahikeng. Thanks Christelle for allowing me to publish your photos....



The Black-collared Barbet is a smallish bird but somewhat larger than a house sparrow. The height of the bird is about 20 cms and its weight is about 58 gms.   The male and female have the same plumage and colours...


It eats invertebrates, fruits, and nectar. It is monogamous unless its mate dies when it will seek out a new mate. The nesting habit of the bird is to create a nest in a hole in a tree trunk. It lays between 2 to 5 eggs which are white in colour.


The Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo Africanus)....

It hunts mainly at night, but will also eat carrion, and is therefore frequently encountered by roadsides scavenging road kill. Hunting, it either snatches prey up in its talons or pursues it on foot along the ground. Airborne prey, such as bats, birds and insects may also be skilfully chased and caught on the wing.

The bond between breeding pairs of spotted eagle-owls is strong, and they may stay together for life.

Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus).  One of the smaller vultures and the female is slightly bigger than the male.  As with many vultures, this is another one endangered and on the red list.  KwaZulu-Natal.

White-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis).  A medium size vulture and yet another one on the endangered list.  KwaZulu-Natal.


Linking to 
Wild Bird Wednesday 306

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Post number 11 on birds seen in Southern Africa.

The Cape white-eye (Zosterops virens). This photo was taken by my friend Christelle in Mahikeng from her bedroom window. So much better than my effort see below....

This was the only shot I got of a Cape white-eye while we were at the South Coast, and it was not very good!
This species is endemic to South Africa. There are seven subspecies of Cape White-eyes just to confuse the issue!!  The Cape White-eye feeds mainly on insects, but also spiders and their eggs, soft fleshy flowers, nectar, fruit, pollen, and small grains. It readily comes to bird feeders. It is monogamous and only seeks a new partner if the first one dies.

The pearl-spotted owlet (Glaucidium perlatum) KwaZulu-Natal....

This fairly small owl feeds mainly on Arthropods such as grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, spiders, and millipedes. They also take small mammals, birds, reptiles and snails. Most hunting is done from perches.

They are active mainly at dusk and dawn, but also during daytime. Apparently, as adults, they have a 'false face' pattern on the back of their heads !

Burchell's Coucal, (Centropus burchellii). Also known as the rain bird.  Their diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw and leaves. The nest is placed under a bush to protect the young from predators. Fairly common in South Africa. KwaZulu Natal.

The Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) was placed in the Genus Hieraaetus, but is now placed in the Genus Aquila by many sources. There are two populations of Booted Eagles in South Africa; intra-African breeding migrants and summer visitors from Europe. The Booted Eagle has a broad diet, from insects, up to medium-sized birds and mammals, everything is taken. KwaZulu-Natal.


Linked to

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Post number 10 on birds seen in Southern Africa.

The white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) is an accomplished scavenger that feeds on the carcasses of Africa’s large animals. Its plumage is dark brown with black skin on the neck and head, making the white lower-back, for which it is named, even more prominent....

As they age, the plumage of white-backed vultures becomes paler and plainer, especially the female’s; conversely, juveniles are darker, with lighter brown streaks on their feathers.  The two above are both immature birds...

The white-backed vulture is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.  KwaZulu-Natal.

The Cape Vulture occurs near the mountains, in open grassland, arid savannahs and steppes. The mountains provide them with thermal currents necessary for the flight of these heavy birds. This species is less common in wooded areas. They breed and roost on cliffs....

The Cape Vulture is a scavenger, feeding at large carcasses where it takes fragments of bones, soft muscles and organ tissues. It has become a rare species. They are threatened by the lack of food due to the changes in farm practices involving fewer livestock mortalities. Collisions with power lines are also important threats.  These vultures suffer poisoning and persecution and are killed for traditional medicine, especially for their brain!
The Cape Vulture is listed as vulnerable with a small population.  Botswana.

The red-crested korhaan or red-crested bustard (Lophotis ruficrista).  KwaZulu-Natal.

It eats mainly invertebrates, supplemented with seeds and fruit. It mainly forages on the ground, picking up food items with its bill. The male puts on a spectacular courtship display to multiple females, who solely incubate the eggs and raise the chicks. She lays 1-2 eggs.

The African grass owl (Tyto capensis) is a species of the barn owl family. Grass owls are completely nocturnal and are only seen during the day if disturbed. They are listed as a vulnerable species. Mainly eats rodents, foraging nocturnally by flying low over the ground, twisting its head in order to locate by sight and sound. Once prey is located it dives to the ground and picks it up with its talons, feeding on the ground or on a nearby perch. KwaZulu-Natal.

Bateleur Eagle (Terathopius ecaudatus). The Bateleur spends most of the time in the day on the wing, soaring effortlessly.  It flies almost the entire day, until the cooler hours of the evening. It may fly well over 300 km every day, during 8 to 9 hours. During the day, it sometimes perches in a tree, close to carrion, where it may try to pirate smaller raptors. When not in flight, the Bateleur perches or stands on the ground usually near water.

Their diet includes small antelope, mice, birds, snakes, carrion, lizards and especially road kills.  I could watch them for hours as they soar so effortlessly. KwaZulu-Natal.


Linked to
Wild Bird Wednesday 304