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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Hamerkop

Afrikaans name: Hamerkop

Hamerkop portrait

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.

Hamerkop portrait

Photo © Steven Herbert

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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References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 175

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 55

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 5

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Year Published: - Page: 27

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 10

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 38

Geoff Lockwood's Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Geoff Lockwood - Year Published: - Page: 159

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 408

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 62

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 62

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 70

List of South African Birds

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