About the Author

Bruce Arnott

Field Guide

Bruce grew up on a plot of farmland in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. He always had a passion for the bush and the outdoors, having been camping and fishing since he was a young boy. He attended school in the Natal midlands after ...

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28 Comments

on Birds, Birds, Birds!

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

I probably take more photos of birds than of animals. Birds are everywhere. In the garden. In the camp. Your photo of the pearl spotted owlet with the bee eater is incredible Bruce.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Thanks you Marinda, glad to know a fellow bird lover 😉

Sandee Bailey
Guest contributor

While we adored the charismatic megafauna, the only photo we turned into a poster-sized enlargement was a Bee Eater (thanks Peter for pointing him out!).

Joan Schmiidt
Master Tracker

Bruce, I am a birder, but the people I am with don’t like birds🤗
So I trudge on alone, not seeing any birds, Lilac Breasted Roller is my favorite bird,
I like so many birds, even the vultures, hornbills. We saw a Night Heron when we were there in 2011!

Karen Bullen
Explorer

Lovely photos and I didn’t think a small owl like the Pearl-spotted would take other birds, but then I suppose in nature, they’re opportunistic and when you’re hungry, you’re hungry!!
Please Mr Photographer, can we have some more birds??

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

I’ll let Mr photographer know that there’s more demand for birds!! Thanks Karen.

Ian Maclarty
Explorer

Great pics Bruce. Post some of them for the 2021 Ranger’s room refurb and you might win top spot two times in a row, based on my vote for you this year?

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Haha, thank you Ian… If there’s another competition around I’ll be sure to throw one of these in. Thanks for the vote!!!

Wendy Macnicol
Digital Tracker

Wow Bruce! What really beautiful pictures. Just love all of them and intend to turn all of them into screensavers!
Wendy M

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Fantastic Wendy I’m so glad you like the photos, which ones do you like the best i.e. The screen savers?

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest contributor

Wonderful photos, Bruce! I, too, had no idea that the owlet could take a bee eater!

Birds are always busy, which makes for interesting photography … and I enjoy the challenge as well. Beautiful shots!

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Thank you Deborah!

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

Since traveling to South Africa a couple of decades ago, I’ve grown to appreciate watching birds of all types and have slowly began to photograph them – no easy task. Your Pearl spotted owl with its bee eater prey was an amazing photo!! Thank you for reminding us that the avians are an important part of any Safari.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Thank you Denise, I appreciate the comment! Glad to know that you’re an avid bird lover too!

Ann Richardson Berg
Senior Digital Ranger

Hello Bruce!
What a good and intresting article you have written! Birds are so beautiful, elegant and smart! I love them for their beauty and elegance! It is easy to get ”starstrucked”! Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos!
I have some questions, have you seen some bird that is very smart in it’s behaviour? Size and smartness? Is their some birds that is famous for being smart or the opposite not so clever…. Have you the impression and experience that a little bird can be smarter than a much bigger one? Looking forward to your answer!

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Thank you for your wonderful comment! I’d say the first bird that comes to mind when I think of a smart little bird, it’s the fork tailed drongo. This little bird can mimic many calls, each with a specific function such as increasing its chances of feeding or protecting itself. They mimic the calls of mongooses, eagles 10 times their size, squirrels and many other animals… And their sounds are deceptively and surprisingly accurate and similar to the animals their mimicking.
I’d say that smaller birds have intelligent ways of protecting themselves, which they’ve had to derive because of their size. Larger birds may not have the same techniques and may not seem as smart. However, I don’t believe that the smaller birds are necessarily more intelligent than the bigger ones. I hope this helps! What do you think?

Ann Richardson Berg
Senior Digital Ranger

Thank you Bruce for your interesting and quick answer! I agree with you, the fort tailed drongo seems to be a very smart one and I think you are right when you say that smaller birds have intelligent ways of protecting themselves, as they had to derive it because of their size. To take an example from my experience. I live in a house with a garden beside a little forest. When I feed birds with nuts etc. I make a speciell sound to make them awere that food is coming, sometimes bigger birds is coming but very often small birds comes directly… I have the impression that they are alert and smart.
Sometimes when the bigger ones hear my sound they start ”talking” and I think givning their ”friends” information about now it’s food coming! It’s just my impression. It is lovely to see and study their behaviour! I think that birds gives so much happiness to the world… One could say that they are divine…
I’m impressed and starstrucked!

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Wow, thank you Ann! I can see that you’re so passionate! Thank you for your story.

Cyndy Beardsley
Explorer

That was so interesting – thank you

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

I always forget that pearlies can take birds larger than themselves!!

Patsy Crisp
Explorer

Is the pic of the francolin, not a Natal Francolin and not a Coqui Francolin – just checking! Thanks for all the great posts.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Patsy, it’s 100% a male Coqui Francolin…

Diana Devaul
Digital Ranger

Love this post! Thank you for the wonderful photos. Great insight and knowledge as always.

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Good to hear from you Diana, thank you!

Joanne Wadsworth Kelley
Master Tracker

I love birds and Africa has some of the most beautiful. I learned a lot from your post, Bruce and all the images are remarkable. Bravo!

Bruce Arnott
Field Guide

Thank you Joanne!

Wendy Macnicol
Digital Tracker

Hi Bruce. In answer to your question about my screensavers, well, I took the Weaver and its Nest Building, then the Yellow Billed Oxpecker, the Coqui Francolin, and the Green Backed Heron. I think the pic of the Pearl Spotted Owl and its prey, the little bee eater, is wonderful, but too sad to go round and round as a screensaver. I also wouldn’t have the Lappet Faced Vulture either for the same reason. We met Timothy Vulture (a Cape Vulture) years ago. What a character! He was being fed a special diet to help strengthen his bones but he would never be able to fly, very sadly. Loved shiny things and would come over, in a sort of rolling gallop, in the way Vultures do to inspect shiny buttons etc, including my toes, thank you very much! I had to hold my umbrella in front of my feet when he was around! I had painted the nails with pink nail polish you see! Obviously a bird of discernment! Loved Timothy. Cheers. Wendy M

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