Grebes, Tropicbirds, Frigatebirds, Cormorants, Darter, Pelicans, Shoebill
Grebes – Order Podicipediformes
This order contains only one family Podicipedidae. Grebes are world wide distributed on fresh water bodies
Tropicbirds – Order Phaethontiformes
has 1 family Phaethontidae. Tropicbirds are pelagic sea birds and found at oceans all over the world in different species. Occasionally they are found near land or cliffs where they breed.
Frigatebirds – Family Fregatidae are found in tropical and subtropical oceans all over the world. They hunt fish but are also very good in pirating prey of other birds in the air which gave them the name “man-o’-war birds”. Their flight ability and maneuverability is enormous. Their beak has a sharp hook at the tip. Nests are built on bushes and males display their red air bags to attract females.
Cormorants – Family Phalacrocoracidae are aquatic birds feeding on fish they catch by diving. They are the only birds with a preen gland, since greased feathers would hold oxygen making it harder to go under water. They often spread their wings on land to dry the feathers. Their feet are webbed for maneuvering under water. They are strong divers. You see them submerging and surface a distance away. They nest in colonies on trees at lakes and rivers in many parts of the planet.
Darter – Family Anhingidae contains only one genus with 4 species of mainly tropical water birds. Their characteristic is long, flexible necks. In East Africa you only find 1 species of Darter.
Pelicans – Family Pelecanidae feed on fish which they catch in fresh and salt water with the bag under the beak. Some species hunt in groups surrounding shoals of fish. Some are more solitary. Their feet are webbed for good swimming but they don’t dive. It is a spectacle to see Great White Pelicans using thermic to soar in large groups high up into the sky. The other Pelican species in Kenya is the Pink-backed Pelican which is more solitary. Both can be found at the same water body.
Hamerkop – Family Scopidae
There is only 1 species – Hamerkop. It is very interesting to watch them hunt frogs and tadpoles.
Shoebill – Family Balaenicipitidae
There is only 1 species – Shoebill. The Shoebill is one dream bird of many birders. You need to travel to the place where chances are highest to find it. One good place is Mabamba Swamp in Uganda which is in general an amazing birding place.
Click on photos for larger view. Names of photographers are indicated. Photos without name are from Elvira Wolfer
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis capensis) is wide spread on fresh and partly soda lakes
White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon l. lepturus) can be found in open waters of the Indian Ocean. Photo Lorenzo Barelli
Greater Frigatebird (Fregata m. minor) also called “man o’ war” can be seen in the open water of the Indian Ocean. Photo Lorenzo Barelli
Long-tailed or Reed Cormorant (Microcarbo a. africana) widespread at waters with fish
Darter (Anhinga r. rufa) is found at lakes with fish. Locally frequent. Left male, right female. Photos Lorenzo Barelli
Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) lives on lakes with fish in Africa. They sometimes hunt in groups.
Pink-backed Pelican (Pelecanus rufescens) doesn’t flock and is quite common on lakes with fish in Africa.
Hamerkop (Scopus u. umbretta) is found at water bodies with fish and amphibians. Widespread in Africa. Builds the largest nests which they reuse.
Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) is a rare bird in its own family. The best place to see it is in Mabamba Swamp in Uganda. Photos by Marina Meger
An interesting documentary