Black-rumped Buttonquails, Turnix nanus, are certainly some of the most elusive and tough-to-see-properly of Africa's birds. Ringers Ursula Franke-Bryson and Tom Bryson couldn't believe their eyes when the little bundle in one of their mistnets at Mutinondo Wilderness in northern Zambia turned out to be this poorly known species. Read on to hear why I think buttonquails are probably some of the planet's weirdest birds!
Some good news that a lot of birders (I hope) have been waiting to hear. My book, CHAMBERLAIN's LBJs, is now available again in print (as well as a downloadable eBook version). If you think I'm exaggerating when I say that LBJs are among our most spectacular, thrilling, interesting, sought-after and memorable birds, this book is just for you.
Africa's Red-billed Quelea is possibly the planet's most numerous bird species, with a global population of around 1.5 billion birds. Here are some videos to show what you can do with an abundance of queleas, a lot of bird seed and a little patience.
Am I the only birder who secretly likes mynas? Despite their bad reputation, you have to admire their tenacity and adaptability. This post solves a mystery that has intrigued me for several years, and highlights a behavioural quirk of mynas that actually contributes to environmental conservation. Recycling!
How many palm strips does it take to build a weaver nest? Foolishly, I dedicated a morning of my life to determine the answer to this question. In the process I discovered some fascinating aspects of weaver life, and gained even more appreciation of these beautiful, talented and energetic birds. Guess the answer, before you continue!
Despite being the epitomy of the term LBJ, Brown-backed Honeybirds are fascinating and curious creatures: brood parasites that can digest waxy scale insects and establish their territories by incredible aerial maneuvers. But there is still a great deal that we don't know about these easily overlooked birds - hopefully my observation on previously undescribed courtship behaviour and calls can contribute one piece to the puzzle.
If you're a Black-bellied Starling and you want to outcompete your frenemies to hook up with a GF, the most chillaxing way is to do it vocally. Talk the talk, gansta, by copying all the birds you hear around you, obvs. I try my hand at teen slang, and analysis of the vocal repertories of Black-bellied Starlings - possibly Africa's most under-rated mimic. If you're too lazy to read the post, just listen to the audio clip where I isolated mimicked phrases from 11 other species in a 22s recording. Peace!
Today is your birthday - welcome to the World, Son! This is a strange but wondrous place, and you will have so much fun exploring it, meeting all the thousands of species that inhabit it, and discovering their secrets. I suggest that you start by getting to know doves and pigeons, some of the most awesome birds out there. So much so, that your Mom and I decided to name you after them!
Nightjars are astonishingly cryptic birds - and differentiating the various species can be a nightmare. Is is possible to confidently identify a nightjar to species-level without hearing it call or capturing and measuring it? You betcha! I promise that if you can summon the mental energy to wade through this technical article - the older brother of the piece that appeared in the Jul/Aug 2015 edition of African Birdlife magazine - you'll be a nightjar fundi!
The parasitic Cuckoo Finch has a talent for deceiving its cisticola hosts - through mimicry of their egg colours and patterns. However, adult female Cuckoo Finches closely resemble female bishops and widowbirds. Could it be that this is also a form of mimicry? Could hiding in plain sight allow broody female cuckoo finches to infiltrate prinia nesting territories undetected? Some inspired research from a team in Zambia suggests this is indeed the case.