Tropical Africa, SW Arabia, Madagascar.
Carnivore. Mostly amphibians (frogs and tadpoles), small fish, crustaceans, worms, insects.
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
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:
- They are often seen perching on the back of hippopotamuses, searching for frogs.
- According to superstitions, hamerkops are bad omens, and it is considered bad luck to harm them. Such superstitions keep them somewhat protected.
- 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.
- They can build as many as 5 nests in a year!
- 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.