Tygerberg Nature Reserve conserves one of Cape Town’s most threatened types of vegetation, namely Swartland Shale Renosterveld. Some bird species are habitat specialist and are mainly restricted certain vegetation types. It is here on the Tygerberg that we can find the Karoo Scrub-Robin, which is endemic to the drier western regions of southern Africa. As the name implies, this bird is associated with arid areas and scrub vegetation as found in the Karoo, Strandveld and Renosterveld. Their habitat preferences discourage them from adopting lush suburban gardens as done by their cousins, the Cape Robin-Chats.
Camouflage plays an important role in this specie’s largely ground-dwelling life and the drab brown plumage tends to make one overlook this bird. However, what it lacks in appearance, it makes up in personality. Although quite wary at first, it becomes bold and inquisitive. If disturbed within its territory it will perch on the top of a bush and loudly scold the intruder. Its Afrikaans name “Slangverklikker” (snake detector) was bestowed upon it because of its habit of raising the alarm.
This Scrub-Robin can be identified by its uniform brown colour, pale throat and whitish eyebrow. When it flies away and lands, the white tips to the tail feathers are very conspicuous.
Pairs are territorial and build a cup-shaped nest at the base of a shrub or up to a meter high in a dense bush. Usually 2 to 4 eggs are laid, which hatch after 14 days. A diet of insects is fed to the chicks that will leave the nest after a further 14 days.
The Jackal Buzzard, which is displayed on our logo, is endemic to southern Africa. It is the largest raptor that is resident on the Tygerberg Hills. It is not a secretive bird and can often be seen gliding on the thermals or soaring in the breeze. Sometimes these birds hang suspended in the air, just above the crest of the hill, keeping their position in the air with hardly any movement of their wings.
The Afrikaans name “Rooiborsjakkalsvoël” is descriptive because it refers to the red-brown plumage on the chest. The amount of red on the chest varies widely and can be used to identify individuals.
In flight it can easily be identified by its broad blackish wings that display a wide white bar. The short red-brown tail is also conspicuous. When soaring the broad wings and short tail form a unified surface that is ideal for sustained aerial hunting. This buzzard is named after the Black-backed Jackal because its far-carrying call is similar to the cry of that animal.
This buzzard nests high up in the exotic pine trees on the hills. One to three eggs are laid and take about 40 days to hatch. During the breeding season the pairs can be seen ferrying food for their youngsters. The prey consists of small mammals, birds, large insects and even reptiles. The chicks fledge after spending 50 days on the nest.
The juveniles are light brown in colour and can easily be confused with the Steppe Buzzard which is a summer visitor from the Russian steppes.