Hamerkop - Scopus umbretta

This handsome and stylish bird is commonly known as Hamerkop and Hammerhead Stork because its head has a crest at the back resembling a hammer. Its scientific name is Scopus umbretta (Pelecaniformes - Scopidae) and occurs in Africa south of the Sahara, Madagascar and coastal southwest Arabia in all wetland habitats.

The Hamerkop’s behavior is unlike other birds’. Besides being compulsive nest builders, an unusual feature is that up to ten birds join in “ceremonies” in which they run circles around each other, all calling loudly, raising their crests, fluttering their wings. Another is “false mounting”, in which one bird stands on top of another and appears to mount it, but they may not be mates and do not copulate.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©tdwrsa | Locality: Kruger National Park, South Africa (2014)

High waves hit coastline of Skye by B℮n on Flickr.

White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica)

Also known as the Pacific heron, the white-necked heron is a species of heron (Ardeidae) which is native to New Guinea and Australia. Like other heron species white-necked herons typically inhabit wet areas like freshwater wetlands, and wet grasslands, where they will feed on fish, frogs, insects, and occasionally reptiles. 


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Pelecaniformes-Ardeidae-Ardea-A. pacifica

Image: Wayne Butterworth

Stripe-backed Bittern (Ixobrychus involucris)

…a small species of Ixobrychus bittern which is distributed in large patches across South America. It occurs in Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and the island of Trinidad to the north and Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Brazil to the south. Like other Ixobrychus bitterns, the stripe-backed bittern will inhabit reed beds and sedge where it will feed on small fish, crustaceans and insects. Stripe-backed bitterns are secretive and solitary doing most of their feeding at night. 


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Pelecaniformes-Ardeidae-Ixobrychus-I. involucris

Image: viviremco

European shags - Phalacrocorax aristotelis

Phalacrocorax aristotelis (Pelecaniformes - Phalacrocoracidae) is a species of cormorant found around the coastline of Britain and throughout western Europe.

In breeding condition, adults develop a green gloss to the black plumage, and a black crest develops on the head. Outside of the breeding season, the plumage is duller and the bill is more yellow in color), although there is a yellow patch at its base throughout the year.

European shags have black feet, legs, and bill, with bright yellow skin at the base of the bill and bright turquoise eyes.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©John Cannon

Locality: Loch Sunart, Acharacle, Highland, Scotland.


There is some debate about whether the shoebill is part of the order Ciconiiformes (the cranes and herons) or the Pelecaniformes (pelicans).  Recent DNA evidence suggests that the shoebill and its close relative, the hamerkop (lower photo) are actually the missing link between the two families.


Lava Heron (Butorides sundevalli)

Also known as the Galapagos Heron, the lava heron is a species of heron (Ardeidae) which as evidenced by its common name is endemic to the Galapagos Islands. It earns its other common name due to its gray coloration which helps it blend into its hardened lava background. Lava herons usually inhabit intertidal zones and mangrove groves where they will catch fish and crabs by spearing them.


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Pelecaniformes-Ardeidae-Butorides-B. sundevalli

Images: Benjamint444 and punteymark

Whistling Heron - Syrigma sibilatrix

The Whistling Heron, Syrigma sibilatrix (Pelecaniformes - Ardeidae), is endemic to South America, where it occupies two disjunct regions. A northern population, which is smaller and paler, occurs in Venezuela and eastern Colombia, whereas a larger, darker subspecies is widely distributed from the pantanal of Bolivia south to southeastern Brazil, Uruguay and northeastern Argentina.

The Whistling Heron is one of the least aquatic members of its family and prefers to forage for large arthropods in open wet grasslands.  This bird is named for its distinctive high pitched calls.

References: [1]

Photo credit: ©Thiago Calil | Locality: not indicated (2012)