The Hammerkop Scopus umbretta is a medium sized bird with a long shaggy crest. The shape of its head with a curved bill and crest at the back is reminiscent of a hammer, hence its name. Its plumage is all-brown. It is related to the herons, but is usually placed in a family of its own because of its unique characteristics.
It occurs in Africa south of the Sahara, Madagascar and southwest Arabia in all wetland habitats including rice paddies. Normally it is seen alone or as a pair. The food is typical of long-legged wading birds, including fish, frogs, rodents and similar small animals.
It builds a huge haystack-like stick nest nearly 2m across in a tree fork, and lays 3 to 6 eggs. The nest is reused each year. It has a noisy call.
The Hammerkop family is one of the families in the order Ciconiiformes, which also includes other wading bird groups: