Burundi Birds

 (by Rachel)

It took moving to Africa 12 years ago for me to develop an interest in birds.  Birds in America aren't "just birds", but they were to me.  When we moved to Kenya, we started to get interested in the fantastic birds all around us, which led to us purchasing Jonathan Scott's Safari Guide to East African Birds, which is a little like Africa Birds for Dummies.  Lots of pictures and not too much time lost in the small difference between this starling and that starling.  We enjoyed taking the book on safari and spotting different birds.

Then baby Maggie decided that Jonathan Scott was her favorite book.  We spent countless hours pouring over the picture pages with her always laughing at the Lappet-faced Vulture and the Southern Ground Hornbill.  Our lives as pseudo amateur African birders was cemented.

Here in Kibuye, the birds are still fun, if not as diverse as Kenya.  Our kids enjoy noticing a new bird they've never seen before, and figuring out what it is.  Right now the elementary kids are doing a bird unit in science and can frequently be found outside, staring through a pair of binoculars.

Sam apparently prefers looking at the camera.

So, here is a brief tour of some Kibuye birds (noting that Burundi at large, especially at Lake Tanganyika, has much broader bird diversity than this).  We're not great at bird photography, so we'll use some stock images.

Hadada Ibis - eBird
Hadada:  Ask any kid at Kibuye to impersonate a Hadada call, and they will nail it.  This chicken-sized ibis can't seem to fly without making noise, and is our collective alarm clock.
black kite, black kites : Story of Africa
The Black African Kite: Our most common raptor also makes quite a bit of noise, often staging epic battles with the Pied Crows (see below).  There are a few trees in Buja where these birds nest in scores, and you can literally see 50 take off together.
File:Black-headed weaver (Ploceus cucullatus bohndorffi) male nest  building.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
The Black-Headed Weavers: showed up at Kibuye about 4 years ago.  The whole noisy flock picks a tree (seemingly preferring to share a nest with the raptors?) and starts making a nest.  We're told the females peck at the nests that the males make.  If it falls, they are an unworthy mate.  So Kibuye kids have often collected the nests, which are truly a marvel.
Heron (Grey) – www.wildengland.com
Grey Heron:  Though we don't live on water, the valley streams nearby are apparently enough for a few of these herons to call Kibuye home.
Paula Gilhooley…African Paradise Flycatcher – travelswithpaulagilhooley
African Paradise Flycatcher:  Always colorful and sometimes with the awesome long tail feathers.
Red-chested Sunbird - eBird
Various Sunbirds:  "Wow, the hummingbirds are beautiful here," says the visitor.  "We don't have hummingbirds.  Those were sunbirds." say the Kibuye kids (respectfully!).  We have several varieties that are beautiful and love the hibiscus flowers behind our house that Carlan planted when we moved in.
Hamerkop - Wikipedia
Hamerkop (Rare): Afrikaans for "hammer head", we've only seen this duck-sized bird maybe a half dozen times in Burundi.  When you see one, you start looking for the nest, which can be as big as 8 feet across!
Ross's Turaco - eBird
Ross Turaco:  Last year, our boys came home wanting to look up a nearly chicken-sized bird in the bird book.  They saw this one and said "yeah, that's it" (very nonchalantly).  They were right.  It's possible that it's just one bird, but we've been seeing it occasionally ever since then.

Pied crow - Wikipedia
Last and Least:  The Pied Crow might be cool if you've never seen a crow like this before, but they are the bane of local bird life.  "Murders" of Pied Crows are everywhere.  They squawk terribly all throughout the day.  They have eaten lots of baby chicks and maybe some other small pets, in addition to quite a bit of our Easter candy one year.  But no list of Kibuye birds would be complete without them.


Abraham Paternoster said...

Glad to see the Safari Guide to East African Birds getting some love. Also what a cool new pal in the Ross Turaco! This post prompted me to look back over my own avian records. Any owl sightings recently? Owl sightings interrupted at least a couple PE classes back in the day. I trust the red-cheeked cordon-bleus are doing ok, too, though they didn't make the list.

Alyssa Pfister said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alyssa Pfister said...

It's like your own guide to Kibuye birds! I've learned something! But you forgot my favorite bird - the dove! It may not be much to look at but it has the best cooing call. And yes, Abraham, there was an enormous owl that I saw the other day just outside the wall.

The Drs. McLaughlin said...

Abraham, thanks for the bird love! Yes, the cordon bleus and the owls are still around, as are many others that didn't make the list. Glad you brought them up!

Valerie Johnson said...

I love learning about the birds of Kibuye! The beauty and breadth of God's creativity is astonishing. Those sunbirds are a work of art!