Birds, and indeed any living organism, must have a range of adaptations to survive their given environment. Dry environments present distinct challenges and make it an interesting subject matter to ponder while birding in Namibia.
The main ecological challenges in desert areas center around heat and water. If you visit these places in summer, this problem is really obvious. But the temperature problem doesn’t go away in winter…in some ways it gets worse. Why?
Well, for a start, any rain that will fall, falls in summer. That’s not the whole problem, however. Cold itself is a problem. Though Namibia’s deserts don’t get as cold as many other regions in the world, in Namibia’s dry areas there is very little of the way of food in those times. There are very few insects and almost no flying insects. This great source of food disappears during the time that birds (and some mammals) could use them most.
Despite the challenges, these dry areas are truly full of life. The birding doesn’t compare in numbers with wetter areas, but the birds that are found here have had to overcome some significant obstacles.
There are various ways to deal with problems, and some birds do it the easy way…they leave. Local and regional migration is very important to desert birds. However, there are other bird species that stay put in the desert and it’s these that make a birding experience in the desert so rich.
Below we discuss some of these adaptations.