RED EYED TURTLE DOVES AND HAMMERS AND KOPS          - 18/2/2008      <--Prev : Next-->


Whenever I feel stressed I do not leap for my "Rescue Drops" or "Anxiety Drops" as do so many of my friends these days. instead I turn off every single appliance, radio, TV , hair dryer and floor polisher.... .

...... and listen for the sound of the red eyed turtle dove.

He has single handedly calmed me for virtually my whole life!!

When we lived in Leander Avenue and used to play in an old helicopter that had crashed during the war, he would gently lull us and tell us that school really was not so bad after all.

When sabres were rattling, bullets thudding around us and tanks were pounding down the road past our house in 1980, he tut tutted melodiously and did not miss a beat.

When I comforted my babes in the heat of the day, head nodding drowsily, he kept in time with the gentle gurgles from my sweet offspring.

I have nearly always lived in Suburbs , and Mr Red Eye Turtle Dove has constantly warbled to me every day of my life...... it would just not be the same without him.

The Brown Hooded Kingfisher has his place in our lives but his is not a calming sound, rather he can get one's nerve ends on edge, as his call signals the end of another long exhausting day, and there is still so much to be done !!

The Hammerkops' noises too have become part of our lives and I have noticed the strangest antics from them recently.

For most of the year there is just one pair.... Hammer and Kop we call them and we know them both intimately.

They work equally as hard as each other gathering gathering gathering, sticks, grass and objet's d'art to decorate their gigantic home way up in the tallest tree in Bulawayo.

Last week though, there were several pairs milling around the canopy, and their familiar sounds became totally different. More demanding, insistent even, we thought Kop might be laying her eggs the sound was so urgent.

But no ... bad birds. they were having a Hammerkop mating dance frenzy... ssssh (a kind of tree top feathered avian orgy !! )

The Jacksonville Zoo has studied Hammerkops in captivity and they report that Hammerkops have been observed in "group ceremonies", usually near a nest.

As many as 10 birds may call loudly while running around each other in circles, a male sometimes mounting a crouching female and pretending to copulate. Crests are raised, wings fluttered, and a chorus of cries continues for several minutes.

True mating is usually done in the privacy of individual nest sites, and may be preceded with displays similar to those observed during "group ceremonies".

Now Hammer and Kop did not undertake these rather risqué actions last time they built a nest in our Faraway Tree, but then they did not breed that year, so lets hope this courtship ritual signals that we might have some baby Hammerkops in the spring, and at long last I will become a Granny !!