Nesting birds at Hakusembe River Lodge

Oct 21, 2020

Bernard Shakanda, Hakusembe River Lodge
Bernard Shakanda, a knowledgeable and very observant guide at Hakusembe River Lodge near Rundu in front of a nesting box occupied by an African Hornbill next to one of the bungalows.

In a tree hollow, about 3,5 metres above ground, a Spotted Eagle Owl follows every movement of people that walk to and from their bungalows at Hakusembe River Lodge on the bank of the Kavango River in northern Namibia. The eyes are narrow slits and the long “ear” tuffs, together with the rest of the plumage, resemble the colour and pattern of the bark of the tree that the bird has chosen as a safe breeding spot. Bernard Shakanda, one of the guides at Hakusembe River Lodge, had spotted the well-camouflaged owl last year already when she raised two chicks in the same tree hole.


Spotted Eagle Owl, Hakusembe River Lodge
The well-camouflaged Spotted Eagle Owl who is incubating her eggs in a tree hollow between the bungalows is very difficult to spot with the naked eye.

Now she and her partner are back and she is incubating another three eggs. A few metres away an African Grey Hornbill has decided to use one of the nesting boxes at Hakusembe as a safe place to raise her young. The female has sealed the entrance of the hollow leaving only a narrow slit for the male to feed both her and in a few weeks’ time the chicks too. Bernard had seen African Grey Hornbills nesting in the same box last year. A few months later a Woodland Kingfisher also occupied the box. To find out if the same Hornbill female will possibly return to the nesting box next year, the female was ringed on the 7th October 2020. She is currently incubating four eggs.


Gondwana Hakusembe River Lodge
The view into the nesting box reveals that the female is incubating four white oval eggs.

A week before, Bernard had found two Hoopoe chicks in the tree hollow next to one of the bungalows in the same area. One of the chicks had left the nest at the start of October and by the 7th October the last chick had disappeared too. Mid-August during the lockdown period the observant guide had found a nest of Purple Herons in the reeds on an island in the river, a few hundred metres upstream from the Lodge and a nest of White-backed Night Herons with four very young hatchlings.

For quite a number of birds, Hakusembe River Lodge 10 km west of Rundu offers a suitable breeding ground and avid bird lovers can observe a variety of bird species here.

Dirk Heinrich


Hakusembe River Lodge, Namibia
Bernard Shakanda is inspecting another nesting box at Hakusembe, to see if any other species are using the artificial nesting holes.