Runway 026

While I worked in the Karoo area in the Western Cape, South Africa, I set up camtraps at certain focal points to monitor bird activity.  Focal points would include drinking troughs, cement reservoirs and wetlands and sometimes the extra camtrap will be adjusted to capture passersby.  The birds in these pictures were captured to see what passersby could be captured close to the water.  It was mounted close to the surface (about 60 cm up) with the purpose of capturing small mammals that may pass through to the water.  The White-necked Raven Corvus albicollis were having a special aspirations of becoming “fighter pilots” and the practiced their landing and take offs in view of the camera.

Taxying to the runway…

These birds are phenomenal scavengers and were around in the area in flocks of more than 80 birds at times.  They were scavenging on weak lambs and on the afterbirth where the ewes had been dropping lambs. They must have exceptional sight, for they are sailing through the air at great height and then virtually drop down vertically to the ground to where carrion is spotted.  At other times they hunt for food and tortoises are favourite prey.  The tortoise would be picked up and then dropped on rocks from a great height to crush the shell after which the contents of the shell is devoured within minutes.  I will post some pics at a later stage of what may be some hunting method not yet described.

Taking off for home

And then close to dusk they would disappear raucously to the mountains to roost for the night and in the new day return to their foraging grounds.

This is the only species of raven occurring in southern Africa.