Queleas

Kruger National Park · May 2019
By Given Mhlongo
Trainee Guide

We have been very lucky again this year with very big flocks of red-billed queleas visiting our concession for feeding and breeding. We had seven different colonies on our concession alone.

Queleas are the most prolific species of birds in Africa and, in fact, they are the second most prolific bird species in the world, second only to chickens. The males have a red colour on the beak.

As seasonal migrants they visit our property every year from February to the end of May due to the amount of grass and water in the area. They come to our area especially for feeding on the guinea grass seeds. When they feed or drink, they make use of a rolling type of movement, whereby birds at the back can also get the fresh grass in the front. They drink water at regular spots in the afternoon before they go back to the roosting spots. They are social and gregarious and they roost together in huge numbers for safety. It is always great to position our vehicle for sundowners on one of the flight paths or at one of these drinking spots, ending off the day watching these beautiful little birds in their millions. The rolling fashion of their drinking is something amazing to witness, and it is always a highlight for any guest’s stay.

During breeding both the male and female birds help to construct the nest for the chicks. When the chicks hatch the male and female will jointly take responsibility for feeding the chicks until they are able to fly. At this time many of species of predators are attracted because the chicks are easy targets. Predators such as lesser spotted eagles, genets, snakes and many more will predate heavily on the young birds and the eggs.

Image by Brian Rode

By Given Mhlongo
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