Friday, January 27, 2012

Birds, Birds, Birds!

While we were at Ranch Nazinga we saw lots of birds. We saw them at many other places as well. Most of these pictures were taken by my grandson, Jesse, who has a great eye for nature and a pretty good camera. I suspect some of you bird watchers will have an idea of what these birds are. I found a couple of them in a bird book and put their names in the captions, but I could be wrong and am open to suggestions. Others are, for the moment, nameless. I will update the names as folks tell me what they really are.

First, here is one of my favorites, because of the bright colors. People reading this blog and responding to my request for help naming the birds agree that this is a red throated bee-eater,

Red throated bee-eater
It was fun to watch it swoop down off the branch, grabbed a bug, and returned to the same perch.

Red throated bee-eater in flight
They were quite common at the ranch, as you can see from the tree, below, that is covered with them.  Yes, those are birds, not leaves on the branches! 

A tree full of red throated bee-eater
 They have nests in a clay bank, kind of like swallows in the states.

Red throated bee-eater homes
 This is some kind of hornbill. Even though the bill looks yellow to be, I think it is a red-billed one.

Here are a couple of African red-billed hornbills hanging out together.

This is an African jacana.

African jacana

This amazing bird is a pied kingfisher.  We saw it hang in the air above the lake, almost the way a humming bird can stay in the same place above a flower. Then it suddenly dived straight down into the water and flew off with a fish.

Pied Kingfisher

I think these are cattle egrets. They follow the cows and eat the bugs they stir up.

Cattle egrets

 I think this is a Goliath heron or maybe a purple heron It is all a question of size, and this guy was quite far away from us and up in a tree so it is hard to judge how big it really was.

Goliath heron
This is a female Abyssinian roller and the male is below

female Abyssinian roller

male Abyssinian roller
They call this bird a pentard. We call them guinea fowl.  I think they have about the ugliest face of any bird I have seen, but they sure are good to eat. You know that this one is domesticated, because of the knob on top of its head. The wild ones look just like it except for the knob.

As everywhere in the world, there is a need for carrion eaters, like the vultures. These were at the ranch, but I have also seen them on the road, disposing of road kill.

vulture in flight
You may have noticed this big pile of straw in the branches of this tree in the middle of the lake in the elephant pictures. It is actually a bird nest.  If you look carefully near the bottom of the nest you can see a hole through which the birds enter the nest.  We saw a couple of them go in and out. The bird is called a hammerkop.


Here are the other birds I did not know before, but they are now named, thanks to the bird watchers who looked at this blog.
Black-crowned night heron

Spur-winged lapwing
Male long-tailed glossy starling

Thanks again to all how helped identify the mystery birds.


  1. Well done, Jan! Just returned from a birding trip to Chiapas Mexico and am now enjoying dreams about a visit to your neck of the woods. Thanks for this great opening into your world and for your Peace Corps service.
    Jim Moulton
    RPCV Mongolia

  2. Guineafowl is called pintade, not pentard.