Secretary Bird Facts

Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Saharan. Although a member of the order Accipitriformes, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, hawks, vultures, and harriers, it is given its own family, Sagittariidae.

It appears on the coats of arms of Sudan and South Africa.

Description

The secretary bird is instantly recognizable as a very large bird with an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to as much as 1.3 m (4.3 ft) tall. This bird has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings.

From a distance or in flight it resembles a crane more than a bird of prey. The tail has two elongated central feathers that extend beyond the feet during flight, as well as long flat plumage creating a posterior crest.

Distribution and habitat

Secretary birds are endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and are non-migratory, though they may follow food sources. Their range extends from Mauritania to Somalia and south to the Cape of Good Hope. These birds are also found at a variety of elevations, from the coastal plains to the highlands and occasionally spotted around Sibuya Game Reserve.

Secretary birds prefer open grasslands and savannas rather than forests and dense shrubbery which may impede their cursorial existence. While the birds roost on the local Acacia trees at night, they spend much of the day on the ground, returning to roosting sites just before dark.

secretary-birdStomping

Secretarybirds specialize in stomping their prey until the prey is killed or immobilized.  This method of hunting is commonly applied to lizards or snakes.

Diet

Prey may consist of insects, mammals ranging in size from mice to hares and mongoose, crabs, lizards, snakes, tortoises, young birds, bird eggs, and sometimes dead animals killed in grass or bush fires.

Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat

This species is found in Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa (it is broadly distributed across Southern Africa, and also commonly found within Sibuya Game Reserve).

Description

Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat is brown to tawny colored with white hair patches at the base of the ears. Males are typically darker in coloration than females. This species is named for erectable epaulettes of hair that form around large scent glands in males only. Males are also distinguished from females by air sacs on the neck that may increase the volume of courtship calls.

Range and Habitat

Populations have also been found in wooded urban areas and roosting in man-made structures.

Diet

Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat is frugivorous, its diet mainly consisting of figs, guava, and various fruits of Diospyros species. Collected fruit is typically carried away from the source tree to another tree. The soft tissue and fruit are consumed while the seeds and skins are discarded. Leaves from Balanites species and several insects may also be eaten.

Roosting

E. wahlbergi is nocturnal. It roosts in well-lit open trees, under palm fronds, in dense forests near rivers, under thatched roofs of sheds, and, rarely, in caves.

Fruit Bat

Photo taken by Chris Ovens

 

Elegant Grasshopper

Elegant Grasshopper (Zonocerus elegans), a short-winged and flightless grasshopper found throughout much of Africa south of the Sahara as well as on Sibuya Game Reserve. They are sometimes also referred to as Rainbow Locusts. They are apparently slow and clumsy, relying primarily on their accumulated toxins for protection from predators. The toxins make them taste bad, although apparently not bad enough to make them inedible for humans. We found numerous references suggesting they are eaten in various parts of Africa.

Insects in particular use colours for protection as their predators, such as birds and other insects, have colour vision.

Elegant Grasshopper

Photo taken by Ranger Pablo

Cape creeper scorpion

Description and Habitat

While on a game drive on Sibuya Game Reserve we found this species of scorpion (Opisthacanthus capensis). With its robust chelae (pincers), dark brown to black in colour, turning green when under cover for some time – this scorpion is ground-dwelling, and found mainly in moist habitats in dense vegetation, forests, hiding under bark and rocks.

Diet

This species features in the diets of the bat-eared fox, the yellow mongoose and the small grey mongoose, just to mention a few.

Venom

Its venom contains powerful neurotoxins and cytotoxins, the venom from this species is largely composed of melittin which stimulates the release of the enzyme phospholipase A2 causing inflammation and pain.

Karoo boer-bean tree

Description

The Karoo Boer-been tree is small in stature (max. height 5 m), evergreen, with rigid branches and has a gnarled trunk. The flowers are numerous, bright red to pink in colour and are borne in small clusters during the months of February to March. They are distributed throughout the tree.

Flowers produce copious amounts of nectar which attract birds, especially the Lesser Double-collared Sunbird and Malachite Sunbird. The butterfly Dantalis breeds in the tree. Flowers are followed by attractive, large, lime green to pink seedpods which turn brown when ripe. The seed is dispersed through an explosive seedpod, which when dry, catapults the seeds great distances from the parent plant. Seeds are produced in May and June of each year. Under normal circumstances the seeds would germinate in moist soil in late spring after the winter rains.

karoo-boer-bean-tree2

Uses

It has a number of interesting uses. A decoction of the bark is taken to treat heartburn and hangovers. Bark and root mixtures are used to strengthen the body and purify the blood, to treat nervous heart conditions and diarrhoea, as well as for facial saunas. The seeds are edible after roasting, and although low in fat and protein they have a high carbohydrate content.

Distribution

The trees often occur along the banks of dry streams and small rivers in the Little Karoo, the drier areas of Eastern Cape, including Sibuya Game Reserve and the southern part of Western Cape.

karoo-boer-bean-tree3

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is not a migrant and although it is a bushveld bird commonly found on Sibuya Game Reserve, it is resident in leafy suburbs of South African towns and eastern coastal regions.

As with other kingfishers, pairs stick together and may hold the same territory for several years.
It has a broad and varied diet, eating a wide variety of insects, but rarely eating fish.

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is known in Afrikaans as Bruinkopvisvanger.

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher has a height of 24 cms and weighs around 60 gms. The head is coloured brown while the bill is coloured red. The Halcyon albiventris has a white coloured throat, orange legs and a black coloured back. The eyes are brown.

The male Halcyon albiventris has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.

Photo taken by Ranger Scott

Photo taken by Ranger Scott

Feeding Habits

This bird forages for food on the ground and feeds on the tree trunk.  This birds forages for fish and other aquatic dwellers through surface sizing and diving for food in the water.  This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten.

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 5 eggs and they are coloured white.

The bird builts its nest in a hole in the ground.

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks.

Lion Sleeping Habits

These kings of the jungle get quite a bit of shut-eye!

It turns out that “I’m a lion, hear me roar!” should probably be changed to “I’m a lion, hear me snore!” The king of the jungle racks up enough sleep to make the average house cat look extremely active by comparison. Take a look at just how much time the big cats spend snoozing.

Photo taken on safari in Sibuya Game Reserve

Photo taken on safari in Sibuya Game Reserve

How Many Hours Do Most Lions Spend Sleeping?

Male lions spend 18 to 20 hours a day snoozing, while females get 15 to 18 hours of shuteye. The lionesses spend more time hunting and taking care of cubs, which is why they get slightly less sleep. And following a large meal, lions may even sleep up to 24 hours—talk about a catnap!

What Time of Day Do They Sleep?

Lions tend to be nocturnal, doing most of their hunting after dusk when it’s cooler, so most of their sleep is accumulated during the day.

Where Do Lions Sleep?

To escape the hot sun, lions tend to find sleeping spots under the shade of bushes.