One of the common birds I saw in the grounds of Bingham Academy during our two week stay in Ethiopia last December was the strange Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus). It seems that this odd looking bird is named for its similarity to a mouse, especially its colour. When the feathers are fluffed it is also somewhat similar to a hunched up mouse – or so I think.
There was a family group of about a dozen in the garden and grounds of the school where my daughter was teaching. One of their favourite feeding places was in the jacaranda tree shown in flower in the photos. It was actually a little early for this tree to be flowering. They’d had unseasonably fine and warm weather just before and during our stay. The tree responded by flowering early despite the fact that the calendar said that spring was still a little way off.
Mousebirds feed on fruit, nectar, seeds, leaves and berries. It is found in eastern and southern Africa.
The Dusky Turtle Dove (Streptopelia lugens) was a challenging bird for me to photograph during my visit to Ethiopia last December. Although they were relatively common on the school campus where my daughter was teaching, during our 2 week stay this species was almost reclusive in nature. One evening I stealthily chased one around the playground trying to get a photo. It was almost dark and the flash needed to be employed, but the bird keep moving around quickly and generally just out of effective reach of the flash.
On another occasion one bird was feeding in the car park right out in the open. Again it was in poor light and the bird keep moving around rapidly, to quickly to get the camera focussed on it. All those shots were blurred. In the end, I only managed to get 2 photos reasonable enough to show here. That’s nature photography I guess. You win some, you lose some – and the rest are just plain challenging.
Doing a little research on this species I have found little in the way of information online. It appears that both males and females of this species, along with closely related species, are able to produce “crop milk”, a soft lumpy substance resembling cheese. When it is fed to the young it nourishes them with its high protein content. Read more about it here.
During our visit to Ethiopia last December the common corvid I observed everywhere was the Pied Crow (Corvis albus) shown in today’s photos. In the grounds of the school where my daughter was teaching they were very common, sometimes numbering 30 – 50 in the gardens, on the oval or flying noisily overhead. They were not slow at picking through food scraps left by the students and were very tame, often allowing me to approach to within a metre or two.
Pied Crows are found in a range of habitats from urban, farming, grasslands and woodlands as well as along lakes and rivers. It is found throughout Ethiopia as well as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and in parts of neighbouring countries. In fact, it is found in most areas south of the Sahara throughout southern Africa, making it the most widespread of any crow or raven in Africa.
For my Australian readers, the Pied Crow is about the same size as the Little Raven and Little Crow, but smaller than the Australian Raven. Its call is just as mournful but harsher and throatier than our Little Raven.
With so many Yellow-billed Kites soaring around the school grounds at Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa, I was able to get some good photos over the fortnight we stayed there with our daughter. I always take opportunities to hone my photographic skills but realise that shooting birds in flight is one area I’ve not fully mastered yet. On this post I show three shots of the kites in flight, and while they are not brilliant, I am quite pleased with them, acknowledging that I still have a long way to go in developing this skill.
One of the colourful birds I saw on my visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last December was the very common Speckled Pigeon (Columba guinea) shown in the photos on this post. It was one of the more common birds in the grounds of the school where my daughter was teaching. The loud cooing of this species continued throughout most of the day.
This species is common throughout much of Africa south of the Sahara. It is common not only in urban areas like where I saw it, but also in farming areas, grasslands and open country. It is found from sea level through to land about 3000 metres in altitude.