Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Southern Ground Hornbill

I am not a birder.  I do not like the checklist approach to wildlife viewing, and I admit I have a hard time understanding how someone can look past a mammal like a giraffe or an elephant to ooo and awww over a tiny bird.  But, I do understand that birds are harder to see, more fleeting in your time to view them, and often more elusive than elephants - so perhaps it is that element that makes birding addictive to some.  Not to me, however.

I have been fortunate enough to see a ton of bird species in my travels.  Though I can't always remember their names, I do enjoy seeing new species, especially when on a long trip or game drive where not much else is available.  Birds beat nothing.  I would rather see mammals, or reptiles, but when this is not possible, birds are quite nice. Taking photos of them also gives me something to do while bird afficianados I may be traveling with whip out the binoculars.

Some birds really are pretty cool, and I appreciate them much more since I've gotten chickens and observed a lot of their nuances in behavior and language over the last three years.

One pretty cool bird is the Southern Ground Hornbill, pictured here.  Hornbills in general are interesting, but Ground Hornbills live on the ground, as the name would imply, and they are very large birds that you can see from quite a distance.  I would estimate them at 2 to 3 feet tall.  You often see them in pairs, or with young, stalking around looking for snakes, insects, etc. int he grass.  It takes them several years to be sexually mature and the young stay with the parents for several years rather than just a season.  Only one chick is raised in a breeding season.  I think I've seen these birds on every trip to Africa and in many places each trip, but they are always noticeable and interesting to watch.  This trip, in the Serengeti, we saw a mated pair feeding their young in a hole in a tree.  Life is cool to watch; even bird life.

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