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Birding: Eastern Cape Hamerkop Nest


The hamerkop is a smallish bird that makes the biggest nest of any African bird. The hamerkop is commonly found at Kariega Game Reserve and one of our rangers, Jone, found this impressive hamerkop nest on the banks of the Kariega River.

Hamerkop Nests Near Eastern Cape River

The hamerkop is a waterbird, so a big tree next to a river is the ideal site for its nest. Using the fork of the tree as a foundation, the hamerkop shows great ingenuity by weaving large sticks or branches together to create a stable base for the nest and then adding smaller twigs to create the structure which includes many false entrances to fool predators like snakes and eagles. The hamerkop uses its nest primarily for breeding and fixes it up every year in preparation for the breeding season. The hamerkops nest is so big that other birds, like eagle owls, will make their nests on top of it.


African Cultures View Hamerkops as Bad Omens

The hamerkop is considered a bad omen in some African cultures. They believe that if a hamerkop flies over your house or camp someone close to you will die. Others believe that if you go near a hamerkop’s nest it will strike you with a lightning bolt. Thankfully Ranger Jone, who took these great photos, is alive and well!

Have you ever seen a hamerkops nest? Let us know by posting your photo or story to our Facebook page.