Scopus umbretta

The Hamerkop is the only species of Fammily Scopidae. It is a common bird throughout Africa south of the Sahara. It adapts rather well to the presence of man, and it is revered by many local tribes.

To feed, it wades in shallow water and stirs the mud with its feet to disturb small fish and tadpoles. It can also fly low over the water and snatch food with its bill.

Hamerkops make huge nests, around 1.5m in depth and width. Male and female both work around 3 to 6 weeks to build one. The nest is very solid, being able to support the weight of a person. These birds construct about 6 of these nests in their territory, but will use only one of them, only once. Instead, many other species of birds will use the abandoned Hamerkop nests, and even snakes and lizards benefit from them by using them for sleeping.

The above picture was taken at the Attica Zoological Park, in Athens, Greece, in June 2007.

Genus Scopus
Family Scopidae
Order Ciconiiformes
Class Aves
Subphylum Vertebrata
Phylum Chordata
Kingdom Animalia
Life on Earth