November 2018

In line with current eco-trends and aiming for a 'greener' lifestyle The Raptor is an e-newsletter - it does not conform to traditional page sizes and is not designed to be printed. The Raptor is what YOU make it so please do keep sending all the sightings and information through.

In This Issue
Indigobirds Getting to Know the two species on Raptor's View
Interesting Sightings Observations from our residents
Photo Gallery Great results from our photographers

The Raptor is looking for a new editor!
The current editors are taking a sabbatical and after 7 years at the helm
it needs a fresh and enthusiastic guiding hand...applications welcome!

Indigobirds - Derek Solomon
village indigobird
Village Indigobird
purple indigobird
Purple Indigobird
The indigobirds are a fascinating family of small finch-like birds and two species, the Village and Purple are common on Raptors View. A third species, the Dusky indigobird, can be found up on the mountain. What is particularly interesting about them is their breeding behaviour. They are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of firefinches, each indigobird parasitizing a single species of firefinch. The Village indigobird uses the Red-billed firefinch, the Purple laying its eggs in the nests of Jameson’s Firefinch.

Unlike cuckoos and honeyguides, the indigobirds do not destroy the hosts eggs and will lay 2-4 eggs in amongst the hosts clutch. Firefinch chicks, on hatching, have distinctive colours and patterns in the mouth that attract the attention of the female when begging for food. What is amazing is that the indigobird chick hatches with the same palate markings as its host species.

Identification is not straightforward apart from the breeding season when males moult into a glossy black plumage, but even then, it can be tricky. What is important is the colour of the bill and the legs, best seen when males are calling from a song perch on the top of a tree. Village Indigobirds have a red bill and orange to red legs, whereas the Purple has a white bill and whitish or pale purple legs. These colours on the females and non-breeding males are not as bright so be careful with identification.

Breeding takes place between December and March and around November males start to moult into breeding plumage, becoming more and more mottled at the moult progresses. Once in full plumage the males establish territories and actively defend their song-perch territories against males of their own species as well as other indigobird species.
purple indigobird village indigobird purple indigobird
Purple Indigobird
non breeding male or female
Village Indigobird
non breeding male or female
Purple Indigobird

While displaying, males mimic host songs and incorporate them into their repertoire, and females use, at least in part, this mimicry to choose mates. Females then use song as a cue when choosing which nest to parasitize. Therefore, knowing the songs of the hosts in the area and identifying host mimicry in a singing indigobird is an effective way to identify the bird – not as easy as it sounds.

A resident male generally uses the call-site year after year. If he disappears, another male often occupies the site, sometimes within an hour. The resident male spends a substantial part of its day calling from the song perch, often through the heat of the day, taking a few minutes off every now and then to feed or drink. Females will visit several males, often mating with more than one of them, and males’ mate with several females.

The females keep a close eye on the activities of firefinches, and if they see them gathering nesting material, particularly feathers, they follow the host to the nest site. A male firefinch often displays with a feather in his bill while displaying to a female thereby helping the female indigobird to find the nest.

The males here on Raptor's View are already moulting into breeding plumage and by Christmas will be displaying so keep an eye out for them.

Happy festive season birding!

Interesting Sightings on the Estate
genet Watch this fascinating video of a Small-spotted Genet scent-marking.


Steve & Julie Benbow

A wonderful series of images of a pair of (mating or fighting?) Water Monitors at Guineafowl Dam earlier in the year, taken by Susan and Sven Hansen.

monitor monitor

monitor monitor

honey badger hopper
Honey Badger - seen late afternoon on the Aardvark Trail, 10 June. Ali Joy Milkweed Locust - pretty, but a tenacious plant destroyer. Roz Saverton

Dark Chanting Goshawk - Jon Quirk

scorpion ardvaark
Rock Scorpion - Simone Braun
Camera-trap Aardvark - Hazel & Alan Partington

Processionary Caterpillars - Els-Katrien Vantieghem

Spotted Bush Snake - Els-Katrien Vantieghem

ardvaark owl
Camera-trap Aardvark
Lovelle & Mike Henderson
Pearl-spotted Owlet
Keith Hartshorne

duiker duiker
Wobbly Duiker baby first spotted 27 Oct 2018, and seen with its mother for the first time on 4 Nov.
Koos & Santa Rautenbach

Photo Gallery
A beautiful Flap-necked Chameleon - Mark Lotwis & Lisa Konwinski

A series of stunning images by Paul Hulston
Jumping Spider
Yellow-billed hornbill
Lesser Bushbaby
African Barred Owlet