Hammerkop .. a day of luck with the birds ..

The hamerkop (Scopus umbretta), also known as hammerkop, hammerkopf, hammerhead, hammerhead stork, umbrette, umber bird, tufted umber, or anvilhead.


With all those names one almost feels that social media bullying is on the go here…. but this bird which occurs in Africa south of the Sahara, Madagascar and coastal south-west Arabia in all wetland habitats, including irrigated land such as rice paddies, as well as in savannahs and forests.

The hamerkop’s behaviour is unlike other birds. One unusual feature is that up to ten birds join in "ceremonies" in which they run circles around each other, all calling loudly, raising their crests, fluttering their wings. Another is "false mounting", in which one bird stands on top of another and appears to mount it, but they may not be mates and do not copulate.


There are many legends about the hamerkop. In some regions, people state that other birds help it build its nest.[4] The ǀXam informants of Wilhelm Bleek said that when a hamerkop flew and called over their camp, they knew that someone close to them had died.

It is known in some cultures as the lightning bird, and the Kalahari Bushmen believe or believed that being hit by lightning resulted from trying to rob a hamerkop’s nest. They also believe that the inimical god Khauna would not like anyone to kill a hamerkop. According to an old Malagasy belief, anyone who destroys its nest will get leprosy


They way it watched me I wondered if there was a curse that it could place on me……


At my age a curse could be a blessing in disguise ….

45 thoughts on “Hammerkop .. a day of luck with the birds ..

  1. Interesting looking bird Rob, which is another new one on me. Your photos show it off very nicely.

      • I’d like to think it is a friend. I have a similar bond with a squirrel who steals my birds seed from the feeder. While most other squirrels ignore me completely and do a dash and run for the food, this one stops and stared directly at me for some time. He seems unafraid and knows I’ve been watching him. I do enjoy those moments.

  2. A very interesting read! … I wonder what this poor bird did to get some an ominous reputation? Unless it’s all the odd ceremonial behaviour when they get together 🙂

    • Thanks Sylvia… I wasn’t aware of all the strange facts till I did a bit of research…. have a good Sunday … hows the house reno’s coming on…

    • Thanks Greg… I actually had a good day at the sixth yesterday… with all the golfers I thought I might just be wasting time… sat around at the sixth and had all the Babblers, Bee eaters, Juvy Red Bishops amid many others come and join me… it was great… got lots of photos…

    • Was unaware of all the thoughts about this bird till I did a research amd now I can understand a few of them… it will stand and stare at you almost hypnotically…

  3. Great pictures of an unusual bird. I always remember the African name – tegwaan – from the fact that when I was a Rover Scout our scoutmaster – who had a head sticking out at the back – was called that.

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