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The hammer-headed hammerkop

Mpala Hammerkops Build Nest Before Your Eyes (Video)

Valerie May from Mpala here! What intriguing footage of a mated hammerkop pair building a nest! These fascinating birds—named for the hammer-shape of their head—build among the largest nests in the avian world. Generally located in the fork of a tree, the nests can rise as high as six feet and weigh 110 pounds! You can see how the nests get so huge if you notice the large size of the building materials the pair are adding.

If you’ve been following the cams since we launched in the April, you know that back then this nest was much smaller and abandoned. We hoped the birds would return to it but there was no guarantee. Likewise, there is no guarantee that this pair will lay eggs in the nest once they’ve finished building it up—but all the signs are good!

The pair will build about three nests over the course of a year and use some and abandon others. They will lay their eggs—three to seven of them—in a walled off area inside the nest. Other animals—such as snakes and mongoose—may share the nest even while the hammerkops are using it.

How will we know if this pair lay eggs? By watching carefully. Both parents will take turns incubating the eggs and the incubation period lasts about a month.

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