The Red-billed Hornbill having a conversation with a Southern Carmine Bee-eater DSC_3217

R5,000.00

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Description

Talk about an odd couple. One is quite beautiful with the second had a feature in the Lion King move Zozu.

This group of conspicuous birds have mainly whitish underparts and head, grey upper-parts, long tails, and a long curved red bill which lacks a casque. The sexes are similar, but the female has a smaller bill. They are generally large, at 42 centimetres (17 in) long, but the entire group is considered one of the smaller horn bills.

During incubation, the female lays three to six white eggs in a tree hole, which is blocked off with a plaster of mud, droppings and fruit pulp. There is only one narrow aperture, just big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks. When the chicks and the female are too big for the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall. Then both parents feed the chicks.

This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly coloured, striking bird, predominantly carmine in colouration, but with the crown and under-tail coverts blue.

Their diet is made up primarily of bees and other flying insects, and their major hunting strategy involves hawking flying insects from perch. Perches may include branches of vegetation or even the backs of large animals, such as the kori bustard.

Its usual habitat included low-altitude river valleys and floodplains, preferring vertical banks suitable for tunnelling when breeding, but readily digging vertical burrows in the level surface of small salt islands. This is a highly sociable species, gathering in large flocks, in or out of breeding season. They roost communally in trees or reed beds, and disperse widely during the day. Nesting is at the end of a 1 to 2 meter long burrow in an earthen bank, where they lay from 2 to 5 eggs.

The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta in northern Botswana. It’s known for its sprawling grassy plains, which flood seasonally, becoming a lush animal habitat. The Moremi Game Reserve occupies the east and central areas of the region. Here, dugout canoes are used to navigate past hippos, elephants and crocodiles. On dry land, wildlife includes lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos. However, the bird life in these regions are equally rich in diversity.

I took this photo while on my first Botswana Delta photo safari trip. April 2019.