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Hamerkop

Hamerkop

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Scientific Name:

Scopus umbretta


Distribution

Tropical Africa, SW Arabia, Madagascar.


Diet:

Carnivore. Mostly amphibians (frogs and tadpoles), small fish, crustaceans, worms, insects.


Facts

Habitat:  Wide variety of wetlands with trees for nesting and roosting.


Incubation: 28-32 days / 3-6 eggs


Social structure: typically couples or 8-10 birds, up to 50 birds


Weight: 430gr max


Dimensions: 50-56cm


Lifespan: ~20 
Population in the wild: common or abundant.


Threats: potentially threatened by a deterioration in wetland water quality caused by the excessive use of pesticides, hunted and traded at traditional medicine markets.


IUCN Status: Least concern


Did you know that:

  1. They are often seen perching on the back of hippopotamuses, searching for frogs.
  2. According to superstitions, hamerkops are bad omens, and it is considered bad luck to harm them. Such superstitions keep them somewhat protected.
  3. They are known for their extraordinarily elaborate large nest, constructed with ~8.000 items (e.g. sticks, leaves, mud). Τhe nest is so strong that it can hold an adult man’s weight. The entrance tunnel is ~60cm long and the nestling chamber is 40cm wide and 60cm tall. It weighs as much as 100 hamerkops and reaches up to 2m in diameter.
  4. They can build as many as 5 nests in a year!
  5. The nests of hamerkops are known to be used by other animals including bees, reptiles, small mammals (such as genets) and other bird species like barn owls.



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