Paignton Zoo have just welcomed a female hamerkop, a bird originating in sub-Saharan Africa that is known for its huge nests – the biggest nests of any African bird. Already home to a male of the species, the introduction of the new female to Paignton Zoo has sparked nest-building efforts among the pair.
Hamerkop nests can be up to 1.5m wide and are strong enough to hold the weight of a human. They take around 3 months to build and are made from thousands of sticks, as well as grass, mud and any other items that they find.
Hamerkops tend to build multiple of these impressively large nests every year, whether they are breeding or not. During the breeding season, females lay 3–7 eggs that the male and female both incubate for around 30 days until they hatch. The family then share the nest until the chicks are ready to fledge.
You can see the progress of this pair’s nest near the Avian Breeding Centre at Paignton Zoo.