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Hamerkop | Scopus umbretta

The Hamerkop is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Scopidae bird family group which includes birds such as Snipes, Godwits, Curlews, Whimbrels, Shanks, Stints, Sandpipers, Ruff, Turnstones, Phalaropes.

The description for the Hamerkop (Latin name Scopus umbretta) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Scopus umbretta can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 81 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 603. You will find a picture of the Hamerkop on page 593.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Hamerkop between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Hamerkop is known in Afrikaans as Hamerkop.

The Hamerkop has a height of 56 cms and weighs around 535 gms. The head is coloured umber while the bill is coloured black. The Scopus umbretta has a umber coloured throat, black legs and a umber coloured back. The eyes are brown.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is umber

Eyes are brown

Bill is black

Legs are black

Throat is umber

Back is umber

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird is a well known scavenger and rarely kills its own prey.

The 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 Hamerkop uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Hamerkop is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 3 to 9 eggs and they are coloured brown.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foligae.

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.

The bird builds its nest above water as a means of protecting itself from predators and to be close to its main food source which includes fish, shrimp and frogs.

The Hamerkop is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams

You can see the Hamerkop bird on coastal regions and on the sea shore where the bird will be foraging with other birds

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Hamerkop is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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