Be Still My Heart: The Birds of Tanzania

Though I am safely home in the US now, I will continue to blog, not only to share the adventure with you, but to document it for myself, as my memory certainly is not improving as I get older.  Many of you know that, though I love all nature and sports photography, my absolute favorite subjects to photograph are birds, preferably in flight or doing something cool that is specific to each one. I will not talk about all of the ones I saw, though I had fun researching, but I will talk about how the ecosystem is impacted by birds, or the lack thereof. The birds in Tanzania ranged from the more common (sparrows just like ours) to birds seen only there, and in sizes ranging from tiny to huge.

Beautiful Superb Starling
Beautiful Superb Starling

The most common, yet one of the prettiest birds we saw is the Superb Starling, which is iridescent blue with an orange underside. They are everywhere, especially in areas where people have food.  Much prettier than the common starling we have in the US, and prettier than the less-common Ashy Starling.

Another food-monger is the Marabou Stork, which is huge and intimidating, as well as butt-ugly. It was fun to watch unsuspecting tourists eating as the stork walked up behind them and they turned abound to find a 4′ bird right there!

Marabou Stork
Marabou Stork

Tanzania is home to a number of raptors, including vultures, eagles and kites. Vultures are being targeted for poisoning by poachers, who do not like them circling around a kill, giving wildlife officers their location.

Lappet-Faced Vulture
Lappet-Faced Vulture

Though vultures do not get much sympathy from people, they are such a necessary part of the ecosystem, cleaning up the remains of dead animals. With as many carcasses and skeletons as we saw, I was surprised at the small number of vultures, and that may be why.

A variety of birds are seen in close proximity to the wildlife, as both benefit.  Cape buffalo herds, as well as hippos usually have egrets and the aptly-named red-billed oxpeckers in great numbers.

Oxpecker dining on Cape Buffalo.
Oxpecker dining on Cape Buffalo.

Both are feeding on bugs; both on the animals, and in the grass, which the buffalo crush down, making it easier for the egrets to find insects.

There are a variety of waterfowl in Tanzania, including various species of geese, ducks, egrets, herons, kingfishers and plovers. We saw many of these, but though some are the same ones as are found in the US, there were quite a few unique water birds.

Knob-Billed Duck
Knob-Billed Duck

Many small, colorful birds are often seen in all areas we visited, including Finches, Rollers,

Weavers and Barbets.  Weavers are named for their tightly woven, gourd-shaped nests  that hang from acacia trees in great numbers. The Red-and-Yellow Barbet is most often seen digging for termites on the huge termite mounds that abound in Tanzania.

Red & Yellow Barbet feasts on termites
Red & Yellow Barbet feasts on termites

Many large ground birds are to be found on the grassy plains, including the Ibises, Cranes, Red-Necked Spur Fowl, Guinea Fowl, and the vain-looking Kori Bustard, a pompous fellow that puffs up his tail trying to attract a mate.

Kori Bustard advertising for a mate
Kori Bustard advertising for a mate

And, of course there is the Common Ostrich, which is one of the fastest and meanest birds around. They easily outran our Jeep.

I could go on and on, but I think it’s best to just speak with pictures about the variety of bird life that abounds in Tanzania.  Enjoy!

Common Ostrich; fast and mean
Common Ostrich; fast and mean
Flock of Ostrich evidence displeasure at our passing.
Flock of Ostrich evidence displeasure at our passing.
Orange Weaver, one of many Weavers in Tanzania.
Orange Weaver, one of many Weavers in Tanzania.
White-headed Buffalo Weaver
White-headed Buffalo Weaver
Weaver's nest hangs amid the thorns of the Acacia tree.
Weaver’s nest hangs amid the thorns of the Acacia tree.
Blue-Capped Cordon Bleu. A type of finch, and one of my favorites.
Blue-Capped Cordon Bleu. A type of finch, and one of my favorites.
Blacksmith Lapwing.  Just pretty!
Blacksmith Lapwing. Just pretty!
Ashy Starling, appropriately named
Ashy Starling, appropriately named
European Roller is similar in color to our Bluebird.
European Roller is similar in color to our Bluebird.
Beautiful European Roller in flight
Beautiful European Roller in flight
Golden Crowned Cranes certainly deserve their name.
Golden Crowned Cranes certainly deserve their name.
Guinea Fowl are very common in the grasslands, able to hide more easily from predators.
Guinea Fowl are very common in the grasslands, able to hide more easily from predators.
Red-Necked Spur Fowl
Red-Necked Spur Fowl
Hadada Ibis
Hadada Ibis
Red Hornbill, so named because its beak resembles a horn.
Red Hornbill, so named because its beak resembles a horn.
Beautiful Red Hornbill in flight
Beautiful Red Hornbill in flight
Spur-Winged Geese  cast a beautiful reflection
Spur-Winged Geese cast a beautiful reflection
A tawny Eagle pair high in an Acacia Tree.
A tawny Eagle pair high in an Acacia Tree.
Egrets and Oxpeckers  hang with the Cape Buffalo.  They clean in exchange for food!
Egrets and Oxpeckers hang with the Cape Buffalo. They clean in exchange for food!
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s