Bird pair start to nest after female arrives at zoo

Joseph Bulmer

An African bird known for its huge nests has been welcomed at Paignton Zoo.

The female hamerkop, a bird originating in sub-Saharan Africa, has arrived at the zoo, which is already home to a male of the species.

The introduction of the new female 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 three 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 between three and seven 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.

The Paignton pair’s nest is near the avian breeding centre at the zoo.