With its strikingly yellow bill, the Southern yellow-billed hornbill is sometimes called the ‘flying banana’. Yellow-billed hornbills are solitairy creatures until the mating time arrives. At that time, the male will do anything for his love, such as bringing her small morsels of food and feeding her from his mouth, and bowing for her with his wings spread. The female then nests in a natural hole in a tree, closing the opening off with her faeces. She leaves just enough opening so that the male can feed her while she incubates the eggs. During this time she loses her feathers. If the male were to abandon her at this time, the female and the eggs would be doomed, as there is no way for them to acquire food. After 25 days the first egg hatches, and when the first chick is about three weeks old, the female leaves the nest in a new suit of feathers. From this moment both parents feed the chicks for the next six weeks. What a lovely family!
Natal spurfowls live in pairs or in groups of up to ten birds. They fly when scared, but spend most of their time on the ground looking for insects and seeds.
Three small Natal spurfowl chicks. So fluffy and adorable!
The spotted thick-knee or dikkop (the Afrikaners and the English disagree about which part of the bird is thick…) always looks kind of sleepy. Its plumage gives excellent camouflage in the long grass, so it can be hard to spot this bird. At night, the bird becomes active and starts to hunt for whatever it can find on the ground: insects, lizards, and even small mammals.
A secretary bird wades through the long grass in Rietvlei Nature Reserve. As much as I like the secretary bird, it does not look like a friendly animal…
A little egret in breeding plumage taking a leap to catch something nice!