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Hamerkop

Afrikaans name: Hamerkop

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Hamerkop at Renosterpan in Kruger National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

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Hamerkop portrait

Photo © Steven Herbert

Scopus umbretta

The proper English name for this bird is Hammerhead, or even Hammerhead Stork, but most people know it as the Hamerkop.

It is obvious that the name of the bird is derived from its hammer-shaped head. The part of the 'hammer' at the back of its head is its crest, which comprises of feathers, so it wouldn't make a very useful hammer.

The Hamerkop is quite a noisy bird and you will often hear it before seeing it. Having said that it is also quite capable of sitting quietly at the waters edge for long periods of time.

Male and female have the same plumage.

The nest of the Hamerkop is an amazing structure. It is normally placed in the fork of a tree and can be a 1 to 1.5 metres across. The pair lay up to 7 eggs in a chamber inside the nest. The nest is mainly made of sticks but may include, or be decorated with, coloured pieces of plastic or other man-made material.

Frogs are the main food item but they will also eat fish and insects.

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