The hamerkop is a wading bird native to Arabia, Africa and Madagascar. Because of its unique characteristics, it is classified within its own family and genus.
Hamerkop behavior and facts
- The hamerkop occupies a variety of habitats ranging from forest to semi-desert, as long as fresh water is available.
- It preys primarily on amphibians, but will also eat crustaceans, small fish and insects.
- Hamerkop build the largest domed nest of any bird. A hamerkop pair will gather over 10,000 sticks to construct their nest, which can support the weight of an adult human.
- Other birds, genets, snakes and bees will reside in a hamerkop nest even when the hamerkop is present.
- Hamerkop practice a poorly understood behavior known as "false-mounting," where male and females hop onto each other backs without attempting to mate.
From birth to death
- Hamerkop breed year-round in East Africa but peak during the rainy and dry seasons elsewhere.
- Clutch: 3 to 6 eggs
- Because nestlings and eggs are so vulnerable to predators, a hamerkop pair rarely raises more than one chick per year.
IUCN least concern
Hamerkop, the Oregon Zoo and you
The zoo's hamerkop lives in the Howard Vollum Aviary exhibit.