Egg-stra special nests
Thursday 4 March 2004
Our pair of hammerkop birds have created their trademark 2m-wide nests for their new eggs
Also known as 'hammer-heads' these medium sized wading birds are famous for their enormous, haystack-like nests which they build out of sticks to nearly 2m across.
The thick walls of the nest protect the eggs and chicks, while their parents leave for long periods of time, foraging for food. The internal chamber of the nest is lined with clay and it has a downward-facing entrance hall on one side.
Their dome shaped nest can be compared to an apartment building, as in the wild they house several generations of hammerkops and other animals as well. These are reused each year and rumour has it, will hold the weight of a small man!
A Hammerkops nest
Despite the complexity of their structure, our nests took the birds less than a week to build. Generally hammerkops lay between 3 and 6 eggs at a time and we are hoping some of this seasons' might be fertile, bringing chicks for the pair in the spring. Both parents help with the incubation, which lasts about 30 days.
The hammerkop Scopus umbretta is relatively common in South West Africa. They live in wetland habitats, hence their long legs for wading. In the wild they are especially fond of rice paddies. The shape of its head with a curved bill and crest at the back is reminiscent of a hammer, hence its name. The hammerkop is related to both the heron and the stork, but I'm sure you'll agree stands alone in it's amazing architectural and interior design abilities! Fingers crossed for some new additions this Spring.