Two Herons and a Hamerkop

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.

Black-headed Heron

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.

Grey Heron

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.