The Honolulu Zoo announced today its newest additions: two hamerkops that are a breeding pair on display in the walk-through aviary of the African Savana.
The male hamerkop came from the Dallas Zoo, while the female bird came from the San Diego Zoo. Hamerkops, named after their hammer-shaped heads, are actually the world’s smallest stork, according to Honolulu Zoo. Both are almost 2 years old.
The birds are not threatened, and are found in the wetlands of Africa and Madagascar. They can live up to 20 years and grow to approximately 2 feet tall. The wading birds are active during the day and feed on frogs, small fish and crustaceans.
“Although hamerkops are not threatened with extinction, having these birds in our zoo provides visitors the opportunity to see these animals up close without having to rely on a video, which just isn’t the same,” said Honolulu Zoo Director Linda Santos in a news release. “These birds are very impressive to see in person, and I urge our local residents and visitors to come take a look for themselves.”
In courtship, hamerkops perform elaborate displays. Mated pairs are known for building large, multichambered nests out of mud, sticks, grasses and plants. Their nests can contain over 10,000 sticks and reach the size of a large refrigerator, weighing approximately 50 to 100 pounds, the zoo said.
Honolulu Zoo has successfully bred and hatched 14 hamerkops since 1996 but has not exhibited a hamerkop since the last one, named MC, died in 2014. Honolulu Zoo plans to breed the pair as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan.