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Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable or increasing, but some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1992) but often makes local movements in semi-arid areas (Brown et al. 1982) and disperses during the rains (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It breeds all year round in East Africa, but elsewhere breeding peaks mostly late in the rains or in the dry season (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species nests solitarily (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and usually occurs in pairs or in small groups of 8-10 individuals outside of the breeding season, sometimes also occurring in social groups of more than 50 (Brown et al. 1982). Habitat The species occupies a wide variety of habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1992) from forest to semi-desert, wherever water is available (Brown et al. 1982). It is commonest in well-watered savanna or woodland and less common in forest, showing a general preference for permanent waters although it will also use temporary wetlands in arid areas (Brown et al. 1982). The species forages in shallow water along sandbanks, in reedbeds or in floating vegetation (Brown et al. 1982) and requires trees (e.g. Khaya senegalensis) to nest and roost in (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992). Suitable habitats include the banks of large rivers and lakes (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), marshes, dams, temporary seasonal ponds (Brown et al. 1982), aquaculture ponds, irrigation schemes and estuaries as well as rocky coasts in Tanzania (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of amphibians (especially Xenopus spp. adults and tadpoles) and small fish as well as crustaceans, worms and insects (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is an elaborate hollow structure of sticks usually built in a fork of a tree (del Hoyo et al. 1992) overhanging water, but alternatively built on cliff ledges, rock columns, on the ground or on sandbanks (Brown et al. 1982). The species shows a preference for nesting in dead trees standing in water and usually roosts in or near its nest (Brown et al. 1982).

The species is potentially threatened by a deterioration in wetland water quality caused by the excessive use of pesticides (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Utilisation The species is hunted and traded at traditional medicine markets in Nigeria (Nikolaus 2001).

Brown, L. H.; Urban, E. K.; Newman, K. 1982. The birds of Africa vol I. Academic Press, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Nikolaus, G. 2001. Bird exploitation for traditional medicine in Nigeria. Malimbus 23: 45-55.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Scopus umbretta. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Scopidae (Hamerkop)
Species name author Gmelin, 1789
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 19,900,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change