I love birds and really enjoy tracking them especially during my private Kenya Safaris. Birds are beautiful creatures with a very simple life. Their lifestyle is simple and adorable. Most of their life is spent looking for food and composing melodious songs that form a crucial part of our life as well. I like the way they are organized by nature in such a way, that a particular species of birds will participate in making the world go round at a particular juncture of the day.
Some birds are very common, friendly and used to both human beings and domesticated animals and its very normal to see them coming close to the human habitats in Africa, or even weaving their nests in our own houses. Most nocturnal birds like owls are very rare and their presence will always raise eyebrows. In traditional African heritage, the sound of a hooting owl is a bad omen. I don’t know the secret behind chasing them with a fire flint but I have seen it work out. But I swear you will not get any closer to it as you might think. They are so sensitive to sound, that they could easily catch a mouse in total darkness guided only by a faint rustle in the ground.
Birds have a special way of communicating with each other and unless one is keen enough, it’s very difficult to interpret them. For instance, they use a different sound when they are looking for a mate, when celebrating or when alerting others of danger. Different types of birds lay different numbers, sizes, shapes and colours of eggs. I was really shocked to notice that a big bird like a flamingo can only lay and brood on one egg while a small bird like an African fire-finch lays more than five eggs!
When it comes to construction of nests, it’s even much more interesting. Almost all types of birds have different tastes and styles of building their houses and homes. They use different building and weaving materials, they use various sites to construct their houses which come in various sizes and forms. As far as I am concerned, hammerkops are the best in building nests. They build the biggest and most comfortable and sophisticated nests of all birds. Mostly constructed in hooked branches of strong desert date trees, these nests can often be seen during Serengeti or Masai Mara safaris they create various compartments for their own security, comfort and personal convenience.
Weaver birds are funny; a female weaver bird will always have to approve of the site and stability of the nest’s foundation. She is very careful with this because she has to assured of the safety of her eggs and chicks otherwise she will lose them all to predators. This means the male weaver bird makes the structure of the nest and calls the female one to approve of it before completion. If it is disapproved, it will have to be destroyed and discarded.
Lazy nest builders like the marabou storks and doves don’t take nest construction very seriously. After all they just need it for a short period to lay and brood on their eggs to hatch, then they vacate and resort to their normal perching on tree branches for accommodation. I think the doves consider themselves to beautiful to undergo the hardship of running around with twigs and grasses in the name of building a beautiful nest. On the other hand, the “marabou storks” are too busy looking for food to support the long necks and legs. They prefer lazing around taking a nap if food is hard to come by and resort to basic accommodation of seven or twelve crossed twigs and call it home!!