South Africa: Birds #2

It took me a while to sort through my south african bird pictures, mainly because not every bird was easy for me to identify. But here is another post on the beautiful birds of South Africa!

Ostrich (Struthio camelus):

I’ll start with one of the more iconic birds of Africa; the ostrich. On Curaçao, where I was born, there is a ostrich farm which I visited a couple of times. And different zoos keep ostriches as well. So I was familiar with the birds. However, seeing them in the wild in their native continent, was fantastic! I was a bit worried that I might not see them, but unexpectedly there were two fairly close to the road. We spent a few minutes just watching them go about their business until we had to move on.

White-headed vulture (Aegypius occipitalis):

Another bird I find fascinating: the vulture. Who hasn’t encountered stories in books or cartoons of the ‘creepy’ bird that just waits until a character is dead to profit from it? This was going through my mind when my friends and I went to the Drakensbergen mountain region to hike. Mountains are not my kind of landscape. It might be beautiful when you reach the top, but the climb up there and my fear of heights put me off. So I was struggling to get to the top of one of the peaks when I looked up the sky and saw a vulture circling above -probably just waiting to get me 😉 . I couldn’t get a clear picture then, but I did see more vultures in Kruger park. Oh yeah, the hike went fine, albeit slow because of me, and the view was spectacular!

Red-billed oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus):

Cute birds that were making themselves at home on the backs (or necks) of other animals. At first, these birds aren’t noticeable, because you are immediately drawn to the animals they feed on. These include giraffes, kudu’s and rhino’s. Impressive animals for sure, but when you examine them closely, you’ll see these birds. They look very innocent, and for the most part they are. They will eat bugs such as ticks that bother their hosts. And they enjoy earwax and dandruff. But every now and again, they peck their host and sip some blood! Gruesome! When it’s breeding season, they’ll also pluck hairs and use them as nesting material. They might look cute, but they come with a dark side!

Burchell’s Coucal (Centropus burchellii):

This one was a bit tricky for me. I thought that it might be a type of raptor like a hawk or falcon, but it is actually a type of cuckoo bird. It is predatory and eats small reptiles, amphibians, snails and small birds. Unlike some other cuckoos, they do not lay their eggs in nests of other birds, but they make their own nests and both parents raise their own chicks.

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Oriole (Oriolidae):

I saw the nests (hanging baskets) before I saw the birds. And they reminded me of the nests of Oriole birds that also live on Curaçao. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn that orioles also live in Africa, although they are different species; even different families. See my post on the Orioles of Curaçao. The orioles of Curaçao are so-called ‘New-World orioles’, while the African orioles are ‘Old-World orioles’. This particular bird flew on and off to its nest, went inside, and came out again.

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Black-collared barbet (Lybius torquatus):

A fun visitor to our camping site while on safari in the Kruger park. I loved the bright head colouring! A very fashionable bird 🙂

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Greater blue-eared starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus):

A conspicuous blue bird. I spotted this one while on safari when the guide stopped for yet another group of zebra’s. Don’t get me wrong here, I loved watching zebra’s, but at that point I had seen a lot of them. So I looked around and spotted this bird. Sometimes it pays off to look around, even if no one else does.

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Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio):

I spotted this bird the same way I spotted the Greater blue-eared starling. The guide stopped for other animals, when this bird flew by. Only when I came across this picture to identify the bird, did I learn that it is a migratory bird which can be seen in Europe and therefore also in the Netherlands where I live. However, here they are considered endangered, so chances of seeing one are slim. This bird has a cruel habit of ‘impaling’ its prey on barbed wires or thorns.

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Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash):

This is a very common bird in South Africa. So much so, that I heard that in some areas they are considered a pest. They live in large groups and make very loud noises. Also, they aren’t shy and live in close proximity to humans.

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I hope you enjoyed looking through this selection of bird pictures and learning more about the various birds and their behaviours.

 

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