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Migratory Birds: South African Summer Safari

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Every summer we are see numerous species of migratory birds visiting our South African safari reserve. This summer some of the migrants have been a little late arriving in South Africa. We think that the birds' flight schedules may have been influenced by the change in the world's weather patterns. We have included photographs and information about some of the migratory birds that you may see while on a summer safari at Kariega Game Reserve. Images thanks to ranger Jone Haesslich.

South African Summer Safari Birds: White Storks

These large birds migrate approximately 8,000 km (5,000 miles) from their homes in Europe to Africa each year. The storks make this incredible journey to enjoy the warm South African summers and find food. White storks feed on large numbers of grasshoppers and other insects that are active during summer in South Africa.

Kariega Summer Visitor White Storks

South African Summer Safari Birds: Diederik's Cuckoo

These gorgeous intra-African migrants come to South Africa from central and east Africa each summer. Diederk's cuckoos are very elusive birds and we usually hear them more than we see them. This photograph was taken after this bird flew into the window of our office building. We took care of it while it was a little dazed and also took the opportunity to take a few photographs. 

Diederik's cuckoos are brood parasites which means that they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. When the cuckoo chick hatches it is taken care of by a different bird species. Even though the cuckoo chick looks different to the other chicks in the nest, the parents will still feed and look after it until it has fledged.

Kariega Summer Visitor Diederick's Cuckoo

South African Summer Safari Birds: Yellow-Billed Kite

These raptors are one of the most common birds of prey and are very regularly seen on South African summer safaris from August to March. Yellow-billed kites migrate from Europe and Asia and into Africa each year. They are easy to identify as they have striking yellow bills and triangular tails. These birds can often be seen perched on the top of tall trees as they look for prey such as mice, rats and lizards. Yellow-billed kites also scavenge on carcasses and eat the afterbirth left after antelope give birth during South African summers.

Kariega Summer Visitor Yellow Billed Kite

South African Summer Safari Birds: European Roller

This vibrant blue bird is a very welcome flash of colour in the South African bushveld during the dry summer months. The Eastern Cape is currently experiencing a drought, along with many other areas across South Africa, and the vegetation is very dry and dull.  European rollers eat any insect they can catch, from crickets to dung beetles. 

The European roller is the only member of the roller family that breeds in Europe before making a long-distance migration to sub-Saharan Africa in our summer months.

Kariega Summer Visitor European Roller

Migratory Birds Depart South Africa During March

These migratory birds start to prepare for their long journeys north as soon as the South African temperatures start to drop and their food supply decreases. This is usually during the month of March.

Did you see any of these birds during your South African summer safari at Kariega Game Reserve? Perhaps you spot some of these migratory birds in your country? Please share any images and comments with us on our Facebook page, via Twitter or Instagram. We also welcome your comments on our blog.