Scientific Name:
Scopus umbretta
Sub-Saharan Africa
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About the Hammerkop

The Hammerkop (Scopus umbretta) is a distinctive bird species found in various habitats across sub-Saharan Africa.


Hammerkops inhabit a wide range of aquatic habitats, including wetlands, marshes, rivers, lakes, and dams. They are also found in wooded areas, savannas, and grasslands with nearby water sources. These birds are adaptable and can be seen in both natural and human-modified landscapes, including agricultural areas, urban parks, and gardens. They often build large, conspicuous nests near water bodies, which are a characteristic feature of their habitat.


Hammerkops are medium-sized birds, measuring approximately 56 to 58 centimeters (22 to 23 inches) in length, with a wingspan of about 90 to 130 centimeters (35 to 51 inches). They have a stocky build with a distinctive crest on the back of the head, a long, slightly curved bill, and broad wings. Their plumage is predominantly brown with a glossy sheen, and they have a prominent white patch on the throat. Best Viewing The best places to view Hammerkops are in wetland habitats and water bodies within their range. Look for them in marshes, rivers, lakes, and dams where they are commonly found foraging for food and nesting. These birds are often seen walking slowly along the water's edge, using their long bills to probe for aquatic prey such as fish, frogs, and insects.