The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Hamerkop

Afrikaans name: Hamerkop

Hamerkop portrait

Hamerkop portrait

Photo © Steven Herbert

Scopus umbretta

The proper English name for this bird is Hammerhead, or even Hammerhead Stork, but most people know it as the Hamerkop.

It is obvious that the name of the bird is derived from its hammer-shaped head. The part of the 'hammer' at the back of its head is its crest, which comprises of feathers, so it wouldn't make a very useful hammer.

The Hamerkop is quite a noisy bird and you will often hear it before seeing it. Having said that it is also quite capable of sitting quietly at the waters edge for long periods of time.

Male and female have the same plumage.

Hamerkop portrait

Photo © Steven Herbert

The nest of the Hamerkop is an amazing structure. It is normally placed in the fork of a tree and can be a 1 to 1.5 metres across. The pair lay up to 7 eggs in a chamber inside the nest. The nest is mainly made of sticks but may include, or be decorated with, coloured pieces of plastic or other man-made material.

Frogs are the main food item but they will also eat fish and insects.

References and further reading

World Birds - Author: Brian P. Martin - Published: 1987 - Page: 140

Wading Birds of the World - Revised edition - Author: Eric and Richard Soothill - Published: 1989 - Page: 74

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 29

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 34

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 131

The Birds of South Africa - Author: Hazel Stokes - Published: 1979 - Page: 5

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 26

The Sandton Field Guide - Author: Sandton Nature Conservation Society - Published: 1982 - Page: 43

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 68

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 70

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 127

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 41

Newmans Garden Birds - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1991 - Page: 24

Questions and Answers - Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Published: 1990 - Page: 9

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 62

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 62

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 45

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 31

Meeting with Birds - Author: Tom Spence - Published: 1986 - Page: 28

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 80

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 80

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Published: 0 - Page: 27

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 32

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 22

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 10

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Published: 2005 - Page: 8

Everyones Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Published: 1987 - Page: 42

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 38

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 54

Geoff Lockwoods Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Geoff Lockwood - Published: 0 - Page: 159

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 60

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 408

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Published: 1992 - Page: 5

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 26

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 46

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 175

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 175

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 55

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 40

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