Being on the most eastern edge of their distribution, we are lucky that the Red-throated Wryneck have chosen Likweti Bushveld Estate as their home. As you make your way up Likweti Drive, you will notice these little birds suddenly flit from the ground into the nearest tree.
The Red-throated Wryneck favours short grass with sparse trees. You will see them singly or in pairs, either on the ground at the base of a tree, or creeping up the trunk and branches. One could mistake them for a woodpecker, but are quickly differentiated by their preference for perching upright in a tree, rather than clinging to the trunk and branches.
These birds do most of their foraging on the ground. They are insectivorous, and have a taste for ants, their eggs and pupae, and use their sticky tongue to secure their prey. They will sometimes excavate food from under the bark of trees, such as the Paperbark Acacia.
The Red-throated Wryneck is a monogamous breeder, and more often than not will take over old Barbet or Woodpecker holes as nesting sites. They are summer breeders, and can occasionally be host to the chick of a Lesser Honeyguide, who use other birds to raise their young.
With their remarkable camouflage, these little birds are always a great sighting. So next time you make your way up Likweti Drive, slow down a bit and keep your eyes at the base of the trees to see if you can add this bird to your list!
Red-throated Wryneck – photo by Ian Davies from eBird.org.