restricted access Woodhoopoes
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GreenWoodhoopoe L: 37 cm (15") An elongated, metallic green-black bird with a long, downcurved, red-orange bill, red legs and a long, floppy, white-tipped tail . Juveniles have dark bills and resemble Common Scimitarbill, but are larger and normally accompanied by adults . It is a common resident in Kruger, where it is frequently seen in camps, clinging to trees and stumps, and flying clumsily with tail dangling . It is a highly social species, communicating by a loud, cackling, almost maniacal, chatter . Small parties clamber in trees, probing bark and crevices for insects, spiders and small vertebrates . An alpha female dominates each group, and alpha pairs are highly faithful, with a less than 1% ‘divorce’ rate . The remainder of the group helps the pair raise their offspring and defends the territory co-operatively . Woodhoopoes nest and roost in holes, where they are vulnerable to predation by genets, African Harrier-Hawk (page 201) and snakes . Greater and Lesser Honeyguides (page 110) are known to be brood parasites of this bird . Woodhoopoes juvenile 102 Common Scimitarbill L: 30 cm (12") Similar to the Green Woodhoopoe but smaller and daintier, lacking a greenish gloss, and with a slender and more strongly downcurved black bill and black legs . Females and juveniles are browner on the head than males, and their bills are shorter and less downcurved . This species is fairly common throughout Kruger, but is less conspicuous than the Green Woodhoopoe . It is most easily detected by its plaintive, high-pitched, three-note whistled “wheeep, wheeep, wheeep” song, and “ker-ker-ker” calls . Birds forage by clambering around on trunks, probing for invertebrates, and will often join mixed-species flocks . Competition for food between the sexes may be reduced as a result of their slightly different bill shapes and foraging strategies: males concentrate on larger branches and females on smaller ones . Unlike the Green Woodhoopoe, the Common Scimitarbill is not a co-operative breeder . The preen glands of woodhoopoes and scimitarbills produce a foul-smelling secretion which acts as an effective predator deterrent. BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS 103 ...