Why is hay in the treetops?

Why is hay in the treetops?

Most of the ‘hay in the treetops’ are found in African countries, south of the Sahara. They are clumps of dry grass hanging from branches. What are they?

The mini clumps and balls of hay are bird nests. 

They are the nests of weaverbirds. Weaverbirds weave grass and leaves, usually dry grass, into small nests on the branches of trees.

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White Stork nest

What does the White Stork nest look like?

The White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a large bird in the Ciconiidae family of storks. 

The White Stork migrates from Europe to Africa or Asia to breed, travelling long distances. It breeds in open farmlands near water.

The male and female White Stork build their nest together. They build a very large nest, made of twigs, in tall trees, on the top of chimneys, and on tall posts or platforms. The nest is extra large and on an extra tall structure for extra safety. They re-use the nest each year. 

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Nesting Red-Legged Seriema

The Red-Legged Seriema (Cariama cristata) is a medium-sized bird. It is also called the Crested Cariama. 

Paired Red-Legged Seriema make a nest together on the ground, or in a bush. The photographed Seriema are making a nest on a ledge. The nest is messy, large, and made of twigs, lined with leaves and feathers.

The female Red-Legged Seriema lays 2 eggs, which hatch after 25-30 days. 

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What is the difference between the European Wasp and the European Paper Wasp?

What is the difference between the European Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) and the European Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula)?

The European Wasp, also called the Common Wasp, and the European Paper Wasp are both vespid insects.

The European Wasp and the European Paper Wasp are both social wasps living in colonies with a queen wasp and worker wasps.

The European Wasp and the European Paper Wasp both have black and yellow bodies with yellowish-orange legs.

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What are the differences between the Asian Hornet and the European Hornet?

What are the differences between the Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) and the European Hornet (Vespa crabro)?

The Asian Hornet and the European Hornet are both insects in the family of eusocial wasps. They both live in colonies of several thousand individuals.

The Asian Hornet has a smooth, black and yellow-orange body with yellow legs and black wings, whereas the European Hornet has a smooth, black and yellow body with distinctive yellow legs and reddish-orange wings.

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Asian Hornet

The Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) is an insect in the Vespidae family of eusocial wasps. It is a vespid. It is also known as the Yellow-Legged Hornet. 

The Asian Hornet has a smooth black and yellow-orange body with black wings and yellow legs, called tarsi. Its thorax (chest) is brown or black. Its abdomen (stomach) is brown. Each abdominal segment has a narrow yellow border, except for the fourth segment, which is orange. Its head is black with a yellow-orange face and black antennae. The female worker hornet has a smooth barbless stinger that can repeatedly sting an animal.

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Bird Box

What is a bird box and why is it important?

A bird box is a structure, usually made from wood, placed high in a tree to attract birds. It is also called a nest box or a bird house.

Birds like the bird box because it makes an excellent nesting site that protects their eggs. 

A bird box is important because it helps to protect and conserve bird species by enabling them to breed in a safe location. 

A bird box also encourages birds to remain in the region. 

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European Hornet

The European Hornet (Vespa crabro) is an insect in the family of eusocial wasps. It is the largest hornet in Europe. It is a vespine.

The European Hornet is black and yellow, with distinctive yellow legs, and reddish-orange wings. Its abdomen is yellow striped with black markings. Its has hair on its thorax and abdomen, but it is not as hairy as bees. The male has seven segments on its abdomen, whereas the female has six segments. Its eyes are shaped like the letter C. The female worker hornet has a stinger at the end of her abdomen. The male has antennae with 13 segments, whereas the female has 12 segments.

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Layard’s Village Weaver

The Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) is a common small African bird. The Layard’s Weaver, or Layard’s Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus nigriceps) is primarily native to eastern Africa.

The Layard’s Village Weaver has a black head with a chestnut edge. Its body is yellow with black feathers. Its belly is yellow. Its legs are pink. It has a thick grey-black beak and red eyes.

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Bird Nests: hollow trees

Many species of birds throughout the world use tree hollows for nesting and protection. Birds build nests in a cavity in a hollow tree to avoid ground predators.

Only old, mature trees have hollows. Openings range from as small as 2 centimetres (almost one inch) to as large as 75 centimetres (29 inches). The depth ranges from 10 centimetres (4 inches) to several metres.

Medium-sized hollows are useful for parrots and larger-sized hollows are useful for owls.

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Carpenter Bee

The Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa caffra) is an African insect in the bee family. It is not a Bumblebee, because a Bumblebee has a hairy body.

The Carpenter Bee has six legs, two pairs of wings, and three body parts: (1) head, (2) thorax, and (3) abdomen. It has a shiny black body with two yellow bands or orange-red bands. It has black wings. Its two antennae are medium-sized. The male does not have a stinger. The female has a stinger on its tail, but it is not aggressive.

The Carpenter Bee grows to about 4-5 centimetres (2 inches) long.

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Wattled Starling

The Wattled Starling (Creatophora cinerea) is a small African bird. It is also called the Locust Bird.

The Wattled Starling is grey-brown with black wings and a black tail. It has a white rump and short wings. It has a pale pink-white beak, pale pink-grey legs, and dark eyes.

When males are ready to breed, the skin on their heads becomes yellow with twisted black wattles (hanging or drooping skin).

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The Augur Buzzard (Buteo augur) is an African raptor; a bird of prey.

The Augur Buzzard has black upperparts with a rufous (red-brown) tail. Its flight feathers are black and off-white (with black bars, or bands). The throat is mainly white, and the underparts and underwings are white. It has a grey beak with a yellowish cere. Its eyes are black. Its legs are creamy-yellow.

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