restricted access Hoopoe and sandgrouse
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African Hoopoe L: 28 cm (11") A ground-hugging, buffy-orange, black and white bird, with a thin, downcurved bill . It has a broad, fan-like crest which is occasionally raised, but often laid flat . The flight action is slow and undulating, low to the ground with jerky beats of rounded black-and-white striped wings . The African Hoopoe is a common resident in Kruger and often frequents camp lawns . It shuffles on short legs using its bill to probe soft soil, dry leaves or animal dung in search of invertebrate food . Its famous trick is to mimic an ant, using its fine bill to trickle grains of sand into an antlion burrow . When the antlion comes to the surface the hunter becomes the hunted, and a handy hoopoe snack . The name hoopoe is derived from the bird’s distinctive “hoop-poop-poop” call, often given from a perch in a tree . Hoopoes are so distinctive that they are placed in their own family, but are fairly closely related to woodhoopoes (page 102). In South African folklore, the presence of a hoopoe is a welcome sign, suggesting you will soon have a visit from a loyal friend. Hoopoe and sandgrouse 70 Double-banded Sandgrouse L: 25 cm (10") Sandgrouse are plump, small-headed, short-billed, dove-like, terrestrial birds . This species looks brown at a distance, but a close view reveals subtly beautiful patterning and a yellow eye-ring . The male is distinguished from the female by its bright orange bill, above which there are bold black and white bars . A fairly common resident, it prefers patches of short tussocky and recently burnt grassland near rocky areas in woodland, particularly Mopane thicket . It is often found alongside roads, and when not moving its cryptic plumage makes it an easy bird to overlook . Double-banded Sandgrouse is largely inactive by day, preferring to forage at night, and just before and after twilight . Birds call a bubbling “oh NO, he’s gone and done it AGAIN”, particularly when arriving at a waterhole to drink . Sandgrouse have the remarkable habit of synchronously coming to water in large numbers at dusk, gathering at a sort of ‘secret ceremony’, where they drink, call and socialise briefly before dispersing . BIRDS OF PLAINS AND OPEN WOODLANDS 71 ...