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hammerkop, hammerhead stork, anvilhead
(broom made of twigs)
The hammerkop has an all brown body, partially webbed toes, a short tail and huge wings. It has a distinctive large, crest on the back of the head and a thick, long beak.
47.5-50 cm (19-20 in.)
415- 430 g (14.5-15.05 oz.)
Includes frogs, tadpoles, fish and invertebrates
Approximately 30 days
South and Central Africa, South Arabia, lowland Madagascar
Inhabits shallow fresh water lakes, ponds, swamps, and marshes
Hammerkops are the smallest African stork.
Hammerkops sometimes participate in group ceremonies. As many as 10 birds call loudly while running round each other in circles. Next, a male will pretend to copulate with a female. With their crest raised, wings fluttering, a chorus of cries continues for several minutes. Only after this elaborate display, does breeding take place.
These birds are famous for their strong, three-tiered nests. The nest is up to 180 cm (6 ft.) high, 180 cm (6 ft.) wide, and can weigh 24.75-49.5 kg (55-110 lbs.)! It is made of sticks, reeds, grass, and dead plant stems placed in a tree fork, on a cliff or on the ground. Such a structure takes 3-4 months to build and can easily support a human's weight!
Hammerhead birds are often seen perching on the back of hippopotamuses, searching for frogs.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
According to superstitions, hammerkops are bad omens, and it is considered bad luck to harm them. Such superstitions have kept the birds somewhat protected.
These birds are notorious for their nest-building habit. In fact, they often provide nests for other species such as certain owls, geese, ducks, kestrels, and pigeons.
Birds - Their Latin Names Explained
. Poole, Dorst: Blandford Press, 1981.
Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World
. New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. 1979.
Perrins, C. M. And Dr. Alex L.A. Middleton, eds.
The Encyclopedia of Birds
. New York: Facts on File Pub. 1985.
Perrins, C. M.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World
. New York: Prentice Hall Press. 1990.