Bath Time Is For The Birds

17 January 2017 | Inside Angama |

Check out the list of feathered friends that visit Angama Mara's resident "bird nerd" at bath time...

It doesn’t take knowing me for very long to learn I’m a bit of a bird nerd. You might find me craning my neck to gaze into the sky while running an errand between North Camp and South Camp, notice me tilt my head subtly to better hear a call note while we’re having a discussion (I swear I’m still paying attention!), or perhaps the topic of birds comes up just a little too unnaturally in conversation. The fact is that it’s a rare day that I’m not taking note, mentally or physically, of nearly every single bird I see or hear.

Dark-capped Bulbul

I try to get out for a bird walk around Angama at least once per week, though during the busier times of the year this unfortunately happens even less frequently. I wish it was more often, however, so in an effort to bring the birds to me rather than always set off in search of them, I asked our infallible Maintenance Manager, Cyrus, if he’d seen any nice rocks around camp that might be able to be turned into a bird bath.

White-browed Robin-Chat

The next day, I noticed a large, flat rock with a shallow depression just outside my living room window. I don’t know if Cyrus just has a mental map of every rock on the property (it wouldn’t surprise me), or if he went out searching for the ideal rock right away . . . but like many times before, I was reminded that you better be sure you know what you want before you ask Cyrus!

African Yellow White-eye

The rock was perfect – just what I had in mind and had been looking for, myself. By adding a small lip of concrete around the edge, the water would be just the right depth for a variety of small birds to bathe, while allowing others to perch on the rim and enjoy a drink.

Greater Honeyguide (1)

But this was all in theory . . . would the birds accept this new water source? Did they even need it?

Ross's Turaco_Angama Mara

I soon found out that very evening, when I noticed a sudden flurry outside the window. I looked outside to see a Dark-capped Bulbul half-submerged, gleefully flicking its wings to give itself a shower. Success! Shortly thereafter, a White-browed Robin-Chat joined in for an evening drink.

Speckled Mousebirds

Since then, we’ve noted a number of birds visiting the bath for a drink or a swim, from the tiny African Yellow White-eye, to the enigmatic Greater Honeyguide, to one of my all-time favorites, the striking Ross’s Turaco. And occasionally, we find patrons of the non-feathered sort: a resident family of Dwarf Mongooses are regular visitors, as well. And who knows who visits us a night! One of these days we’ll get a camera trap to find out.

Dwarf Mongoose

Currently, our “bird bath list” stands at about 15 species, several of which are pictured here. But considering we’ve seen closer to 50 species from our living room window, we’re eager to see who else will come down for a dip. Which is why, if you walk by our house and catch us with our faces pressed up against the window, we’re not being rude and staring at you . . . we’re just looking at birds.

Tyler at his Bird Bath

AUTHOR: Tyler Davis

Guide and birding fundi, Tyler was also one half of the regional director couple that lead the team at Angama Mara for the first five years. Being the birding extraordinaire that he is, he was known to let his attention wander during meetings. The trick to keep him focused was to place him with no direct view of anything feathered. Tyler ensures that we are a grounded and well-rounded team. He also sometimes forgets to take his binoculars off at dinnertime.

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