Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

Hammer Kop

Hammerkops are the smallest African stork. Its thick square crest is the origin of its name. Hammerkop means hammerhead in Dutch. It has black legs and a black bill tipped with hook.  Hammerkops range from central to southern Africa.  They Inhabit shallow fresh water lakes, ponds, swamps, and marshes. Their diet includes frogs, tadpoles, fish and invertebrates.

The Hammerkop is noted for the enormous size of its nest. Nests can weigh 50 to 100 pounds.  It is made of sticks, reeds, grass, and dead plant stems placed in a tree fork, on a cliff or on the ground near water. Such a structure takes 3-4 months to build and can easily support a human's weight!  The nest can be compared to an apartment building, housing several generations of Hammerkops and other animals as well. Weaver birds often build their nests under the shelter of the Hammerkops' huge structure.  The thick walls of the nest protect the young while their parents leave for long periods of time, foraging for food. The chamber of the nest is lined with clay and it has a downward -facing entrance hall on one side.

According to superstitions, Hammerkops are bad omens, and it is considered bad luck to harm them. Such superstitions have kept the birds somewhat protected.

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