Three beautiful and unique birds that I see on a daily basis here in the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve are the Hamerkop, Black-headed Heron, and the Grey Heron. These three species are fairly common throughout southern Africa but I find them very interesting.
This strange-looking bird pictured above is the Hamerkop. This species is widespread and has no close relatives. As far as its coloration goes, it is quite dull; basically a brownish color. However, this bird’s head shape gives it a weird look and is responsible for this bird’s name. As you can see in my photo, the head of this bird is shaped like that of a hammer. The Hamerkop builds massive dome-shaped nests in trees along waterways, where it also can be seen most often, hunting for fish and frogs.
The Black-headed Heron (pictured above) is a close relative to our Great Blue Heron and is very similar in its habits and overall structure. The dark grey cap and back of neck, slate-grey bill, and black and grey underwings give this heron a very distinctive look. This heron prefers to spend quite a bit of its time hunting fields and grasslands for insects and rodents rather than hunting for fish in a pond or stream.
Superficially identical to the Great Blue Heron of the Americas is the Grey Heron, found throughout Europe and Africa. This heron takes over where the Black-headed Heron leaves off; spending almost all of its time in aquatic environments.