Birds I wish I had seen

Jonathan spent a week in Botswana, in Moremi, and the Okavango Delta.  I wasn’t invited on the trip, though perhaps I could have gone if I had insisted.  Maybe I should have.  While it wasn’t a birding trip, still they saw lots of birds, some of which I wish I had been privileged to see as well.  So here are some of the birds that I wish I had seen.  All of these would have been a lifer for me, if I had gone. 

Slaty Egret

Slaty Egret.  This bird is considered vulnerable and uncommon.  So far it has eluded me, though I still hope to see it here in Zambia before I go.


The Red-crested Korhaan has a very distinct chevron pattern on its back.  In Zambia, it is only found in the far south.  Don’t know if I will even come close to getting a look at it.




Red-billed Sour-Fowl.  Here you can see why they are called Spur-Fowl.


They have this sharp spur on each of their lower legs. It is used by the males for fighting according to Beat about the Bush: Birds by Trevor Carnaby. 

Burchell's Starling?

Burchell’s Starling.  The starlings here in Africa are often much more striking and beautiful than the ones we have in the States and since they are indigenous, rather than foreign and invasive, they are that much easier to enjoy.

Chestnut-vented tit-babbler

This non-descript little gray bird could easily have a birder stumped as to its i.d.  Jonathan showed me this picture and I had no idea what bird it might be.  Fortunately he got a picture of the bird at another angle and now we are able to identify it as a Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler.  I like the two photos together, because if you didn’t know better, you would think they were of two completely different birds.

Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler

So, lots of fun birds that I missed out on.  Hopefully I will get to take a couple trips of my own in the near future and I will be able to stop birding vicariously through Jonathan.


A sad story

My neighbor and friend called me yesterday afternoon saying that she had an injured bird in her yard and could I come identify it.  I didn’t much feel like getting out of the house as we had already been gone a good portion of the day so I asked her to describe it.  I was thinking it was probably just some common yard bird like a bulbul  or a mannikin. She described it as having long legs like a plover and being brown above and white below with a red eye-ring.  I could not identify it by such a description so decided to go ahead to her place to have a look. 

I was quite surprised when I got there as it did look like a plover.  She and I live on the same street, and I had never seen a plover anywhere near either of our yards.  I looked through my field guide but couldn’t figure out which one it was as its head and breast markings were a bit different than all the plovers in the book.  I thought maybe a juvenile three banded.

Jonathan had come with me and started looking through the field guide when I gave up, and he had a little more patience, skill, and insight than I did and identified it as a Bronze-winged Courser.  I had never seen a courser before, so then I was pretty excited.  It didn’t really have the same shape as the coursers in the field guide which was what threw me off, (in the book they all have rather long necks, and this one never stretched out its neck) but it definitely has the right markings.



The bottom picture shows the iridescent violet on the wings.  It used to be called the Violet-tipped Courser.  You usually can’t see the violet when you see the bird under normal circumstances so maybe that is why they changed the name.  Probably it was one of those birds that they named back in the days when they shot the birds and examined them close up.


This third picture shows the bird in my friend’s flower bed where it settled down when given an option to do so. I like it because it shows how well camouflaged the bird would be if it sat still.   Most of the time we left it in a cage because my friend has a dog.  The reason the bird was injured was because the dog chased it and it flew into the wall.  I was hoping to find someone without a dog who could keep it in their yard until it could fly again.  It eats insects and I thought it would need to run free in the yard to feed itself. Unfortunately it must have been more damaged than we thought.  I am sad to have to report that it died overnight.  It was a sweet little thing.


Backyard Birds?

We have had a couple unusual birds in our yard lately.  The first one was not a complete surprise as we see raptors fairly often in the “suburb” where we live. This Shikra  visited our yard several times and we finally got some decent pictures of it thanks to Jonathan.  I had previously only seen it in a national park, so I learned something there.   I find these little hawks pretty tough to identify unless they stick around long enough to let you check out the field guide or you get some good photos.  Here, Jonathan got some really clear shots, so we can clearly see his cherry red eye and lack of spots on his tail or bars on his central tail feathers, and lack of a chin stripe, so I feel pretty confident about my i.d..

  Shikra (10)

Shikra (2)

The second interesting bird we have seen of late is a Hamerkop, again I had previously only seen these in the bush.  We have a little stream that runs just below our wall so I guess the Hamerkop has decided to make it home for a little while.  Based on the number of frogs in our yard, I would imagine that that the eating is pretty good down there.  This weekend he was just flying around overhead a bit and then landed on the other side of the wall, but a week or two ago he landed on our antenna above our house, so here is a decent shot of him.  I am just guessing that the stream will dry up eventually as dry-season really gets underway and then we will not see him again, but for now, we are enjoying his visits.