Moolmanshoek Biodivers bird life

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Moolmanshoek Biodivers bird life

The Moolmanshoek Valley surrounds you by majestic mountains. A beautiful valley surrounded by lush nature,  the reserve was declared a South African Natural Heritage Site (No 199) in 1994. Biodiversity of wild animals roam the plains and mountain slopes of the reserve.

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leptailurus serval 

Moolmanshoek Wetlands 

Jackal buzzard (Rooiborsjakkalsvoël)

The adult jackal buzzard has a remarkable plumage and is considered to be one of the most attractive buzzards. It has a rufous tail and is practically black on top. The primary flight feathers are blackish, and the secondary flight feathers are off-white, with black barred edges. Except for a contrasting black abdomen with thin white bars, the underparts and underwing coverts are mostly chestnut, while the rest of the underparts and underwing coverts are rich rufous. From below, the flight feathers have a wide white panel that contrasts with the black on the hand and black on the tips, forming a dark trailing edge to the wing.

Except for the augur buzzard, the jackal buzzard has a fairly short tail, broad wings, heavy body, and huge bill in comparison to most other buzzards. The young jackal buzzard is mostly brown on top and a washed-out rufous-buff brown underneath, with worn feathers that look as lighter buffy or whitish striping. The juvenile’s tail is normally buff-brown in color, with or without a creamy light tip. The underwing of a juvenile has black tips and a whitish panel, just like an adult, but the inner of the wing is rufous-buff, comparable to the brown streaks on the body feathers.


Southern Africa is home to the jackal buzzard. Despite its small range, it is a reasonably frequent raptor species. It is found throughout much of South Africa, with the exception of few areas in the north-central region, where it is widespread. The range then continues to central Namibia in the west, through Lesotho and Swaziland in the east, into south Mozambique, and to extreme southeast Botswana in the west. This is mostly a mountain species, however it can be found anywhere from low rocky outcrops and rubble at sea level to high mountainous areas up to 3,500 meters in Lesotho (11,500 ft). It can thrive in both desert-like, arid environments and locations with abundant rainfall and lush vegetation.


Outside of the breeding season, pairs perform loud aerial displays. The aerial show of the couple on territory, on the other hand, is usually much less dramatic than that of the augur buzzard, consisting mostly of circling or mild dipping. The breeding season is most active from July to December, but it can start as early as May and end as late as March. The enormous stick nest is constructed in a tree or on a ledge, and it is frequently reused and expanded in successive seasons. The nest will be roughly 60 to 70 cm broad and 35 cm deep when it is first built, but with repeated use, it can easily exceed 1 m in diameter. Two creamy or bluish white eggs, or very rarely three, are placed at three-day intervals and incubated solely by the female, despite the male bringing food to her on the nest. According to surveys, the average egg size is 60.7 mm x 47.7 mm, with a height range of 57 to 64.9 mm and a diameter range of 45 to 50 mm. The eggs hatch in around 40 days, and they can attempt flight after another 56–60 days. Intruders, including people, who venture too close to the nest will be attacked by the parents. Siblicide has been extensively observed, yet nests often produce two fledglings when food is plentiful.

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African harrier-hawk (Kaalwangvalk)

The African harrier-hawk is a raptor of modest size. The upper body, head, and breast are all a light grey color. White with delicate dark banding on the belly. The pale grey wings have a black trailing edge edged with a thin white line. A single broad white stripe runs across the tail. A naked facial patch of varying color, generally red or yellow, is present. The genders are identical, but young birds have pale brown feathers instead of grey and dark brown feathers instead of black. The double-jointed knees of this species are an uncommon feature that allows it to reach into otherwise inaccessible holes and fissures in search of prey.


African harrier-hawks are a common raptorial species south of the Sahara, with the majority of them located in the tropical parts of western Africa, with East and South Africa becoming less prevalent. In the Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve in the Central African Republic, African harrier-hawks can be found in a variety of habitats, including deep rainforest, forest edge, riparian areas, agricultural land, and human-occupied places. African harrier-hawks are flexible and can dwell in both urban and rural human-occupied environments, and they are one of the most prevalent raptorial species in eastern Guinea-traditional Bissau’s rural settlements. African harrier-hawks have also been observed breeding in city parks and urban gardens.

In different sections of the African harrier-hawk range, the breeding season begins at different times. The breeding season in Nigeria is March-August, and south of the equator, it appears that the breeding season is in the austral summer, but this can vary per country. For example, the breeding season in South Africa is November-December, whereas it is September-November in Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

Large trees, sometimes growing out of or located on a rocky outcrop, are the most popular nesting places. Nests are round and generally located below the canopy on the main fork of the tree. Nests, like those of other raptors, can be used for numerous breeding seasons and are relatively large, measuring 0.75m broad and 0.2m deep. Nests are constructed of sticks and coated with leaves from nearby trees. The clutch size ranges from one to three eggs.

During the courtship display of African harrier-hawks, one or both individuals in a couple soar slowly together at great heights and are frequently heard calling. When the male flies alone, he often flaps his wings and flies in an undulating rhythm. There have been reports of the male diving towards the female and stroking her back with his talons, and the female rolling over and touching talons with the male while they fly together.

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Cape Weaver


The Cape weaver is a stocky 17-cm bird with an olive-brown upperparts and a long pointed conical beak. The breeding male has a yellow head and underparts, an orange face, and white iris. The head and breast of a mature female are olive-yellow, with a pale yellow lower belly. Females have brown eyes, but in the summer, 19% of them have pale eyes, therefore eye color alone cannot be used to determine sex. Female-like look in young birds.


The Cape weaver is indigenous to South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland, and can be found from the Orange River in the Northern Cape south to the Cape of Good Hope, then east to northern KwaZulu Natal and inland almost to Bloemfontein in the Free State (excluding the Kalahari Desert).

So long as there is permanent water and trees, the Cape weaver can be found in open grassland, lowland fynbos, coastal thicket, and farmland. It is only found in upland places in more drier, hotter temperatures, and it never occurs in forests.

In a single breeding season, each male can have up to 7 females, making the Cape weaver a polygynous, territorial colonial nester. Males usually create colonies of two to twenty males. Each male constructs many nests inside a tiny region that he fiercely defends from other males. Females inspect the quality of the nest’s building by pulling at the interior material; if it’s satisfactory, the female assumes a hunched position to show her willingness to mate. The male constructs the nest in about a week, and it is a kidney-shaped, entirely waterproof structure constructed of interlaced broad strips of grass or reeds.

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Red-throated wryneck


Red-throated wryneck populations can be found all over Sub-Saharan Africa, with one population limited to South Africa and Swaziland. It is a very specialized species that only lives in grassland and feeds on ants and termites. It often builds its nest in tree cavities created by other birds, but it can also use natural tree holes and nest boxes. It lays 16 eggs, normally 3-4, which are incubated for 13 days by both sexes. Both parents look after the chicks, who stay in the nest for about 25-26 days. Soon after fledging, the juveniles become self-sufficient. It is widespread throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, with one population found solely in South Africa and Swaziland. It prefers grassland with little trees and can be found in southern Africa from the Limpopo Province to the Eastern Cape. Because it only consumes ants and termites, it is highly specialized. It digs up ant nests and licks them clean with its sticky tongue on a regular basis. The following insects have been identified as part of its diet: Insects and ants
Woodpeckers and barbets (such as Lybius torquatus (Black-collared barbet) and Trachyphonus vaillantii), for example, use tree cavities to build their nests (Crested barbet). Nesting locations include natural tree cavities, nest boxes, and hollow metal fence posts.


The secretarybird is a large bird with an eagle-like body and crane-like legs that allow it to reach up to 1.3 meters in height. Both sexes have a similar appearance. Adults have a grey plumage with a flattened dark crest and black flight feathers and thighs, as well as a featherless red-orange face and grey plumage with a flattened dark crest and black flight feathers and thighs. Breeding can take place at any time of the year, but it is more common in the dry season. In the nest, which is made at the top of a thorny tree, a clutch of one to three eggs is placed. When there is plenty of food, all three young can survive to fledgling.


The secretarybird is a non-migratory bird native to Sub-Saharan Africa, yet it may become locally nomadic due to an abundance of prey brought on by rain. Its range extends from Senegal through Somaliland and south to the Cape Province of South Africa. The plant can be found at a variety of heights, from the coastal plains to the mountains. Open grasslands, savannas, and shrubland Karoo are preferred by the secretarybird over woodlands and dense flora, which could hamper its ability to fly. It prefers areas where the grass is less than 0.5 m tall and avoids areas where the grass is more than 1 m tall. It’s more prevalent in grasslands in the north of its range, which otherwise appear to be comparable to places where it’s widespread in southern Africa, implying that it prefers milder climes. Deserts are also avoided by it.

Secretarybirds are not extremely social, with the exception of pairings and their offspring. They sleep in Acacia and Balanites trees, as well as introduced pine trees, in South Africa. They normally leave 1–2 hours after the sun rises, following some grooming. Mated pairs roost together and may forage separately, but they always stay close together. They walk at a speed of 2.5–3 km/h, taking 120 steps per minute on average. After spending much of the day on the ground, secretarybirds return after dusk, flying downwind before returning upwind. Unattached males are usually seen alone, and their territories tend to be in less suitable areas.


Secretarybirds form monogamous partnerships and defend a territory of 50 square kilometers. They can breed at any time of year, but they are most likely to do so in the late dry season. During courting, they perform a nuptial performance by soaring high in undulating flight patterns and calling with guttural croaking. Males and females can also exhibit their territorial defense by pursuing one other with their wings up and back on the ground. They have their mating rituals in the woods or on the ground.

Both sexes construct the nest in the top of a dense thorny tree, usually an Acacia, between 2.5 and 13 meters above the ground. The nest is made up of a rather flat platform of sticks measuring 1.0–1.5 m across and 30–50 cm deep. The grass and the occasional particle of manure line the tiny depression. Eggs are laid every two to three days until the clutch of one to three eggs is complete. The eggs are elongated and chalky bluish green or white, measuring 78 mm x 57 mm and weighing 130 g.

When the first egg is laid, both parents begin incubating the eggs, however the female is usually the one who stays on the nest overnight. When the incubating parent returns, it bends and bobbles its head, arms outstretched, as if greeting its partner. To maintain the tail upright, the tail feathers are fanned out while the chest feathers are puffed out. The eggs hatch in 2–3 day intervals after 45 days. Both parents feed their children. Food is regurgitated onto the nest’s floor by the adults, who then pick up and pass items to the chicks. For the first two or three weeks after the eggs hatch, the parents alternate staying at the nest with the young. [There has been no indication of sibling fighting, despite the diversity in nestling size due to asynchronous hatching.] Under ideal conditions, all three chicks from a clutch of three eggs fledge, but if food is scarce, one or more of the chicks will starve to death. Crows, ravens, hornbills, and massive owls are among the predators that may feast on the young.


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Long-tailed widowbird

The long-tailed widowbird (Euplectes progne), popularly known as the “Sakabula,” belongs to the Ploceidae family of birds. Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia are home to the species. Long-tailed widowbirds are a medium-sized bird that is one of the most frequent in the areas where they live. Adult breeding males have a bluish white bill, long, wide tails, and orange and white shoulders (epaulets). Females have tawny and black feathers with pale spots on the chest, breast, and back, as well as slender tail feathers and horn-colored beak.

The sexual dimorphism in long-tailed widowbirds is noticeable. Males and females have distinct behavioral and morphological characteristics. Adult males are completely black, including behind their wing-coverts. Males have orange-red wing shoulders and white wing-coverts. Their bills are a light blue white color. Males are distinguished by their long tails, which have twelve tail feathers. Six to eight of the twelve tail feathers are approximately half a meter long. Males have wingspans ranging from 127 to 147 mm.
Females have a more muted color than males. The female’s body is streaked with buff or tawny and black on the upper half. Female chests, breasts, and flanks are a little lighter than their male counterparts.


Three populations of long-tailed widowbirds have been identified. The first is found in Kenya’s highlands, the second in Angola, southern Zaire, and Zambia, and the third in southern Africa. The last time these populations interacted is unclear, and the morphology of the center population differs the most from the other two. From the Eastern Cape (Transkei region) to the Transvaal plateau, the population of southern Africa stretches via the Free State, Lesotho, KwaZulu-Natal, and western Swaziland. The species only makes it to southeastern Botswana, but it is most commonly observed on the central highveld of South Africa.



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Long-tailed widowbird

Malachite sunbird

From Ethiopia’s highlands to South Africa’s coast, the malachite sunbird (Nectarinia famosa) is a tiny nectarivorous bird. They pollinate a wide range of flowering plants, particularly those with lengthy corolla tubes.

The mating male malachite sunbird is 25 cm long, with exceptionally long center tail feathers, and the shorter-tailed female is 15 cm long. When breeding, the adult male is metallic green with blackish-green wings and tiny yellow pectoral patches. The male’s upperparts are brown in non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, with the exception of the green wings and tail, which retain the extended feathers. In eclipse plumage, the underparts are yellow with green flecks.

The female has brown upperparts and dull yellow underparts, with faint striping across the breast. Her tail has a squared-off end. The youngster bears a striking resemblance to the female.



In South Africa, hilly fynbos (including protea stands and districts with aloes), cold montane and coastal scrub, and hilly fynbos (containing protea stands and regions with aloes) up to 2,800m are all home to this massive sunbird. It’s also found in parks and gardens (often nesting within those located in the Highveld). It is a year-round resident, however it may migrate downwards in the winter.
This species, like most sunbirds, feeds primarily on nectar, but it will occasionally consume insects, especially while feeding young. This sunbird may hunt like a flycatcher from a perch, swooping down on insect prey.
Although most sunbird species can take nectar by hovering like hummingbirds, they prefer to eat from a perch most of the time.



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Malachite kingfisher

The malachite kingfisher (Corythornis cristatus) is a river kingfisher found across Africa south of the Sahara. Except for seasonal climate-related movements, it is primarily resident.

It’s a little kingfisher, around 13 cm (5.1 in) in length. In Southern Africa, the standard size is 14cm, however in East Africa and Ethiopia, it is 12cm. The mature bird’s upper body is a brilliant metallic blue. The scientific name refers to the head’s tiny crest of black and blue feathers. The face, cheeks, and underparts are rufous, with white dots on the throat and back neck sides. Adults have a reddish-orange bill and striking red legs, while young birds have a black bill. Juveniles are a duller version of adults, despite the fact that the sexes are comparable.


This species can be found around slow-moving water or ponds in reeds and aquatic plants. Except for the dry areas of Somalia, Kenya, Namibia, and Botswana, it is found across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The malachite kingfisher’s flight is quick, with its short, rounded wings buzzing till they become a blur. It flies low over water most of the time. The nest is a tunnel in a sandy bank, usually above water. Both of these birds are scavengers. Most burrows tilt uphill before reaching the nesting chamber. Three to four clutches of three to six spherical, white eggs are deposited on a litter of fish bones and disgorged pellets.
The bird fishes from perches or platforms that it regularly maintains. These are usually found close to the water’s surface. It sits up straight and points its tail downward. It splashes down and frequently reappears moments later with a struggling victim. Large foods are smashed against a branch or rail, but small fish and insects are eaten whole.

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Malachite kingfisher

Fiscal flycatcher

The fiscal flycatcher (Melaenornis silens) belongs to the Old World flycatcher family and is a small passerine bird. Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Swaziland are all resident breeders, and Namibia is a vagrant.

Subtropical open woodland, dry savanna, shrubland, and suburban gardens are all home to this plant.

The shrike-like similarity of this black and white bird to the northern fiscal gave it its name. The fiscal flycatcher is about 17–20 centimeters long. The adult male has white wing patches and white tail sides, and is black on top and white underside. The female in the photo above is brown, not black. The juvenile is identical to the female but has brown dots and scalloping on the top and bottom. Tssisk is the alarm call, and the song is a faint chittering. The shrike has a powerful hooked bill, a white patch on the shoulder instead of the lower wing, and no white on its longer tail.

Mocking cliff chat (Dassievoël)


The mocking cliff chat (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris), often known as the mocking chat or cliff chat, is a species of chat in the Muscicapidae family that lives in rocky settings across much of eastern Sub-Saharan Africa.

A huge chat with unusual coloration, the mocking cliff chat is a giant conversation. The male has a glossy black coat with white shoulder patches and a chestnut belly, vent, and rump. The size of the shoulder patches varies depending on where you are. The female has a dark grey lower breast, belly, and vent with a chestnut lower breast, belly, and vent. The mocking cliff chat is 19–21 cm long and weighs 41–51g.


The mocking cliff chat eats insects mostly, although it also eats fruit and feeds on the nectar of aloes like Aloe arborescens Krantz. Pounce on food on the ground from a perch is its primary mode of foraging, however it will also browse from branches and foliage. They constantly wag their tails, slowly raising and spreading them over their backs.

Both sexes work together to build the nest, which takes about a week to finish. It’s a mammalian hair-lined open cup erected over a base of twigs, leaves, roots, and feathers. They commonly raid striped swallow nests, evicting the swallows while the nest is still occupied.

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