Art. # 206
OPPORTUNISTIC HAMERKOP NEST TENANT
Text by Stefan Rust
Photos by Ute Von Ludwiger
(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belongs to Stefan Rust)
Female and Male (from left to right)
These large hornbills, regarded as largest species of hornbill in the world, can live in groups from 2 to 11 individuals. One such group contains a dominant pair, and often more than one adult male along with several immature birds, but mostly only one adult female. They are capable of catching prey as big as hares, snakes and even large tortoises. As their name suggests they spend a lot of time on the ground, about 70% of the day.
The more or less constant food supply in the habitat allows them to live there in groups throughout the year. This habit of living in groups year round made this species a so-called obligate co-operative breeder, meaning the breeding pair never raises its chick alone, but is helped by other members of the flock. A suggestion to this behavior is that the helping skill gained through being a juvenile helper is essential for rearing own chicks as an adult. Mating takes place from September to December, the beginning of the wet season, and two eggs are usually laid in a cavity of a dead or live tree, less often in a cliff hollow and rarely in an earth bank or on an old stick nest.
Female on Hamerkop nest