One of the most productive activities in the Okavango Delta eco-system is the breeding of the abundant birdlife that call this magnificent wilderness home. Yellow-billed storks are one of the many species of birds currently roosting at the Kanana heronry. The heronry is such an exciting and special place because you get to witness the birds daily routine of courting, feeding, interacting and one of the more interesting parts, nest building!
I was on an early morning motorboating activity with my guests when we decided to make our way to the heronry. On arrival, I turned off the boat a fair bit away from the Gomoti thickets so we could slowly drift towards the birds without disturbing them. We focused on a group of Yellow-billed storks who were nesting among the Pink-backed pelicans. I noticed a pair of storks were very busy building a nest; the pair will work as a team with the male flying off to collect building material while the female stays on site to do the actual nest building. We noticed the male was being extremely industrious on this particular morning, flying back and forth and always returning with a beak-ful of grass or twigs.
What’s also interesting about the Heronry is the competition for space to nest, when breeding is at its peak the trees are so full of birds one can barely see the tops of the Gomoti thickets. Conditions can become very tense as each bird prioritises their instinct to breed and disperse their gene pool.
For the Yellow-billed storks, nest building takes approximately seven to ten days where after the female will lay two to three eggs at a time. The incubation period will take thirty days and both the male and female will take turns to incubate the eggs. Once the eggs have hatched the fledglings should leave the nest in approximately two months, just in time for the start of the wet season in the Delta
The heronry is a true wonder where one is able to witness such beauty and teamwork from birds preparing to receive new life together.