With the onset of summer here, youngsters abound on Londolozi and we are seeing plenty of baby impala, zebra, warthog and wildebeest out on game drive. However, this morning I would like to introduce you to some youngsters of a different kind, who are currently growing up right in amongst the Londolozi family.
A pair of very lucky little Bearded Scrub Robins found an idyllic home in which to nest thanks to our executive chef, Anna Ridgewell. Anna started noticing increased activity around this little home as some robins began flitting backwards and forwards with nesting material. It seems that both the male and female were building the nest although it is hard to say, as the sexes are very alike. They created a cup nest at the back of the cavity using mostly rootlets, dead leaves, dried grass, lichen and moss, which took only a few days. Then on successive mornings, the female laid two to three eggs, which are typically blotched and freckled with shades of brown and greyish mauve. Bearded Scrub Robins are obviously aware of the colouring of their eggs because the Red chested Cuckoo, which parasitises the robin, has developed the ability to mimic the robin’s eggs and lays very similar looking ones instead of laying its typical brown eggs, to avoid them being tossed out of the nest by the robin.
The female then incubates the eggs for eleven days before they hatch naked, blind and totally dependent on their parents. We have based their age on when we first heard activity in the nest but judging by their appearance, they may even be a day or two older than originally thought. This is because at about a week old their eyes are fully open, primary quills are growing and they are erupting quills on their head, which gives them this pincushion look you can see in the picture below.
At the moment, both the adults are working tirelessly to feed their hungry brood. All morning they can be seen flitting backwards and forwards with various treats such as beetles, ants, termites and caterpillars.
These birds will only nest for about 15 days, so it is incredible to think of the massive growth and change they will undergo in the next week and a half from these tiny featherless, useless chicks to youngsters able to fly. After that they will remain under the care of the adults for another four weeks before they become totally independent and begin to explore further afield on Londolozi.
Have you ever seen such small chicks? Let us know in the comment section below.
Written and photographed by Amy Attenborough