Diederik cuckoo

One of the beautiful cuckoos that are summer visitors to South Africa. Once the rains start, the calls of the cuckoos can be heard everywhere in the bush. This glorious green bird is called the Diederik cuckoo, because its name sounds like the Dutch/Afrikaans name Diederik: It calls “Die- die- diederik!” Unfortunately hearing cuckoos is much easier than actually seeing them, so I was very happy when this one perched on a branch for a moment.

Kori bustard on the move

The Kori Bustard is a huge, almost prehistoric-looking bird. It’s the heaviest bird in Africa and possibly the world that still is able to fly. However, it spends most of its time on the ground, searching for lizards, insects, or even berries. The impala in the photo has nothing to fear from the kori bustard, although it did feel the need to watch it pass.

The lovely courtship of the flying banana

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!

Spotted thick-knee

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.