Hammerkop (Scopus umbretta)

The Hammerkop (Scopus umbretta), about the size of a small egret, is entirely brown, with a robust crest which gives its head a hammer-like appearance. This pronounced head crest makes it unmistakable. The bill is long, laterally compressed, blade-like and tipped with a sharp hook. Its legs are strong and endowed with narrowly webbed toes.

This bird is related to the storks but is different enough to be placed in a separate family (Family Scopidae) of which it is the only member species.Perhaps what the hammerkop is knowned for is massive nest built mostly on a tall V-shaped branched acacia tree.Hammerkops feed mostly on frogs,fish and tadpoles, and they also take small crustaceans, grasshoppers, and aquatic insects. They often rest during the day and become active at twilight, when they are most often encountered, often alone. They range throughout Kenya.

Northen white-faced scops Owl

Photo@Yan Van Duinne

The Northern White-Faced Scops Owl is a smallish owl easily recognizable by its very striking white facial disc, with a border of black plumage. It has large, bright orange eyes, which are also surrounded with black. (Juveniles have greyish plumage on their faces, and their eyes are yellow). These owls have prominent ear-tufts. Bigger than the Scops Owl, they are on average 25cms in height, weighing around 200gms. The feathers of their upper parts are mostly pale grey: their under parts are lighter and more streaked. The female of the species is larger than the male.Like so many other species of owl, northern white faced scops owl is a nocturnal. In Kenya they are found in Samburu and Baffalo springs  National reserve , Meru National Park, Kerio Valley, Lake Baringo and Bogoria .

This species is found singly or in pairs. The female will lay a clutch of 2 or 3 eggs in the old stick-nests of many other bird species, including small raptors such as goshawks and kites – or even herons, dove or crow’s nests. If these are not available, they will nest in natural tree holes. The 30 day incubation is mainly by the female, although the male may assist. Young chicks will start to fly at roughly 33 days, leaving the nest area two weeks thereafter.

Crested Guinea Fowl (Guttera pucherani)

Photo@Raymond Galea

Crested Guinea fowl has a wide range in Kenya and northern Tanzania. In Kenya it is found mostly in western tropical rain forest remnant of Kakamega forest and Lake Manyara national park in Northern Tanzania, Body plumage is much like a typhical Guinea Fowl, with whitish spot; most recognizable features is the short, curly “mop” of black feathers on the head, the rest of the head and neck are bare with blue skin, red skin arond the eyes and on the neck;eyes are red;legs dark brown to black.The species is mono morphic.

white-headed Mousebird (Colius leucocephalus)

Photo@Jacqui Harrington

Mousebirds, sometimes called colies, are an ancient group of small arboreal birds in Africa. They are so unique in morphological peculiarities that they were proposed as a separate Order of birds as long ago as 1872, and this placement has been confirmed by molecular evidence (Sibley & Ahlquist 1990, Hackett et al. 2008). They are the only Order restricted to sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya three species occurs,  White-headed, Blue-naped and Speckled Mousebird.There are only two genera among the mousebirds, and four of the six species are placed in Colius, including White-headed Mouse Bird  of east Africa (left). White-headed Mousebird, like most of this genus, is a bird of arid thornscrub. Its range is limited to a band of such thornscrub from s. Somalia to n.e. Tanzania. The most widespread species, Speckled Mousebird C. striatus, occurs more broadly in a variety of woodlands.

The three  species of Colius mousebirds are essentially allopatric in distribution, without any significant overlap, and where there is a little range overlap, they separate out by habitat.In Kenya it is found  in Samburu, Meru, Tsavo west and Tsavo East National Park.

Vulturine Guineafowl ((Acryllium vulturinum))

c@Joseph Aengwo

 Vulturine Guineafowl is Large, unmistakable guineafowl; the bare skin of the head and neck is bluish-gray with a band of short chestnut feathers that extends behind the eyes on the back of the head; long, white striped plumes extend from the breast and back; the upper back and breast is brilliant blue, with a black patch on the center of the chest; wings and rear half of body spotted with a long, drooping tail. Females are similar to the males, but slightly smaller and have smaller tarsal spurs. Chicks much like other guineafowl, but develop light blue underparts in a few weeks.Common in dry savanna and scrub land of northeastern Kenya.This photo was taken in Samburu National Reserve.