When you joined me in Botswana Africa’s Okavango Delta last week, I presented birds that frequent the water. See Part 1 here. Today we’ll complete the series with birds that tend to occupy the grassland and woodland habitats of the Delta.
The lilac-breasted roller is a favorite for many people, because of their astounding beauty. So-named for their aerial acrobatic rolling, they are about the size of a crow.
They hunt for insects and lizards, and perch in open spots, then flutter out like a ballerina in the air, and spin and roll with dazzling beauty.
Another very colorful and acrobatic bird, bee-eaters can be found on numerous continents; in Africa there are 20 species, with seven in Botswana.
As you might have deducted from their name, the bee-eaters hunt bees; and are often seen on a limb whacking a freshly-caught bee–they are eradicating the bee’s stinger before consumption.
And then there’s the comical oxpeckers.
Usually found on the body of a large mammal, they eat the pesky ticks, and sometimes ear wax and dandruff. Not a charming diet, but a bird that is a fun to observe. Just looking at this photo starts you wondering where they venture….
Another resplendent beauty, the Greater Blue-eared Glossy starlings shimmer in the blazing African sun.
Other birds pictured here are the long-tailed shrike, a thrill to watch flying as his tail waves through the air like an unfurled flag; and the coppery-tailed coucal with their copper tail and scarlet eye.
Common in Okavango Delta, hornbills are known for their massive casque bills. There are seven hornbill species in Botswana alone. A previous post on the hornbills.
Then there’s the very cool hammerkop, whose name translates to hammerhead, in describing the bird’s unusual hammer head-shape.
One bird has so many unusual features, you don’t know what to think of it: the secretary bird.
This elusive bird of prey has the body of a raptor and the legs of a crane, with funky quill-like feathers on the head. They use their half-pantaloon/half-bare legs to stomp prey. Funny-looking but ferocious, they also use their large, hooked bill to strike prey.
The secretary bird is one of my favorites, read more at Loving the Secretary Bird by Jet Eliot.
The largest owl in Africa, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl is a towering force in the woods, eating mammals, birds and insects.
But even this bird, also known as the Giant Eagle Owl, has a soft side: when you find them sleeping, you see their pretty pink eyelids.
Because it’s an African safari and birds are only part of the adventure, I’ve also included a few other creatures we observed in the Okavango Delta.
Thank you for joining me on this two-part series, celebrating the wide variety of birds in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
All photos by Athena Alexander.