A few weeks ago we ran a story on a pair of fork-tailed drongos that were nesting barely two hundred metres from the Londolozi camps.
Three beautiful eggs were laid in that nest, but the site the birds had chosen was fairly exposed, and we were worried that it would be spotted and raided by a predator.
Fast forward nearly a month though, and we are happy to report that all three chicks are alive and well.
The trio are already starting to flap their little wings in order to prep their muscles for their first flight. We are still a couple of weeks away from that stage yet, as their primary feathers (the main flight ones) still have quite a bit of growing to do, but at least one of the chicks has been seen leaving the nest and walking out along the branch it is on. This is of course a dangerous period in their development, as a slip could tumble them out of the tree and they won’t be able to scramble back up to the safety of the nest.
The books say that only about one in three chicks is reared successfully. I don’t know at which stage of development the greatest mortality occurs, but it seems to me that these three are doing fantastically well. It’s possible that one might start to edge out the others when it comes to getting food (one of the chicks appears slightly darker; I don’t know if that suggests more rapid development), and the ones that don’t receive as much might be stunted in their growth as a result, be slower to fly and therefore more susceptible to predation.
It’s not quite the African Wild Dog den we had on Londolozi at the start of Lockdown, but here right on our door step is a comparable story of birth, growth and survival of incredibly vulnerable creatures in a very hostile environment. Let’s all root for them!