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CELEBRATING THE SECRETARYBIRD AS THE BIRD OF THE YEAR

Posted on the 23rd January 2019

CELEBRATING THE SECRETARYBIRD AS THE BIRD OF THE YEAR
The BirdLife Overberg monthly talks for 2019 started with a bang on 21 January as we had one of the best attendances yet in the club’s history. Anton Odendal highlighted the plight of the Secretarybird as the Bird of the Year. A background to BirdLife South Africa’s bird of the year campaigns was given, followed by a brief overview of BirdLife Overberg’s activities celebrating the African Black Oystercatcher as bird of the year during 2018. 

The reasons for the iconic Secretarybird being selected as bird of the year were discussed and interesting information on its identification, diet, breeding biology and habitat preferences were reviewed. Some of the many threats facing this vulnerable species were highlighted and these included eggs and chicks taken from nests by other birds, and possible problems related to muti and trade in wildlife, as well as possible drowning in farm reservoirs. The latest information on collisions with wind energy turbines, power lines and farm fences were then illustrated. Heavy emphasis was placed on habitat destruction and fragmentation and issues highlighted included increased agricultural cultivation and exotic plantations, bush encroachment, overgrazing, too frequent fires and urbanisation and urban sprawl. These issues were practically demonstrated with examples from the Overberg region.

Examples of organisations contributing to conservation work on the Secretarybird were also given. Members of the audience were requested to report sightings and breeding records of these birds to Melissa Whitecross at melissa.whitecross@birdlife.org.za and those using BirdLasser can register with Ernst Retief at ernst.retief@birdlife.org.za. All bird collisions with power lines should reported to wep@ewt.org.za. 

This talk will also be presented to other bird clubs and conservation agencies and a summary of it will be included in this year’s Flight for Birders and other specialist courses. Send enquiries in this regard to Elaine at mwjasser@mweb.co.za. An article on the species for the column in Landbouweekblad is also approaching completion. 

Image by Diane Steenkamp of BirdLife Overberg
Image by Wilfred Crous of BirdLife Overberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS

2476
PHILIP CURTIS (posted: 2019-01-24 12:54:13)
Observed a secretary bird 2019/01/24 approximately 6.40 a.m.
Farm Aasvogelnes, North East of Robertson, Western Cape.
Bird was perched on a small Karoo Thorn tree and then flew to the ground where it remained for some time, either eating something or preening.