It is tough being a DIKKOP by Ron & Anna Keytel

25 Jun 2010 Posted by in Environment, News and Events | 96 comments

The big brave male

Apart from having to live with that name, they do have a tough life, particularly the chicks.

About 6 months ago a pair of Cape Dikkops invaded our lawn, our space was gone, when ever we walked out to the Vlei to enjoy the environment we were accosted by a pair of snarling Dikkops, come on guys (the birds), we love birds and even miserly feed you, get a life!!!

The Cape Dikkop (Burhinus capensis) hides during the daylight in the garden and is nocturnal with a loud melancholy and ghostly whistling call at especially at full moon. It eats small crustacea, molluscs and certain grass seeds.

After about 6 weeks there were 2 eggs just on the ground no nest, they were about the size of chickens eggs and a motley speckled brown colour. Very well camouflaged, in our garden.

Well now these birds were doubly aggressive.

In due course the eggs hatched and we now had 2 chicks as well, running around with their patents, after about 7 days the chicks just disappeared, we don’t know where or how, maybe they had grown up enough and had moved on.

Eggs in the nest

After about a month or 2 suddenly there we are two more eggs, boy were we going to check this lot, the incubation period is about 24 days with both parents sitting on the nest alternately.

On schedule early in the morning there was a chick walking around with its parents, the other egg had not hatched yet, so out came the binoculars, and we watched, within the hour we saw the other egg hatch and the other chick emerge, within 30 seconds it had struggled to its feet and waddled off after its parents and brother /sister, it was unbelievable.

Dalton gave us the technical name for this birth life style, it is the same as antelopes, drop out and run, otherwise something will catch you and eat you.

Again after about 7 days the chicks had just disappeared again, although Gill Groenhof had found one of the chicks in her drive way the previous day, brought it back and united it with its parents.

We still think something eat the chicks, mongoose, otter, meer cat, fish eagles or other birds of prey, never did find any carcass or feathers.

The Dikkops are still with us, go off for a day or two and then come back, hopefully will breed again in the new season.

As you all may know we have had a bit of success with raising abandoned birds, notably “Survivor” the purple gallinule (oh sorry, marsh hen) who was around for about 2 years and “Klaas” the Klaas cuckoo, who was around for about 6 months.

The release is always traumatic, will they be able to find food? Additionally in our case they did not understand enemies, humans, dogs, and cats in our house are all friendly; although our animals are trained, out in the real world any pet is a potential assassin to these hand eared birds.

What we have always talked about was release to the “World of Birds” or any of the other holiday farms with the correct facilities, which we will do next time.

article and photos by

Ron & Anna Keytel

Guarding the nest

Two chicks with mom

Me and Mom

  1. Sandra10-11-10

    I am having a similar experience with a Dikkop pair. It invaded my garden in spite of 3 cats. The cats are now restricted to half of the garden. The eggs hatched a couple of days ago, but one chick did not make it. The other chick is now 3 days old. Yes, the mother and father is now extremely aggressive around the chick. The cats have one quarter of the garden left! I hope the little chick survives. I live in Brackenfell, Western Cape.

    • Ron Keytel Zeekoevlei11-21-10

      Hi Sandra, it is quite depressing, just lost out 3rd batch of 2 chicks, the parents are still around, but my wife wants to chase them away so that she does not go through that trauma every couple of weeks (we wont do this).
      Feeding “Roberts” says food, insects, small crustacea, mollusks, and certain grass seeds.
      if they survive to self feeding stage, I would consider giving to World of Birds.
      I subscribe to Birdnet, and this is a common problem, and Dikkops are getting scarcer.
      Ron K (, 0127054333)

      • Annelie Hanekom05-02-13

        Hello Ron. We had a Dikkop pair in our street. They just hatched their third pair of twins. This afternoon we found one of the chicks abandoned, running up and down and calling for his parents. The parents and other chick seem to have vanished! We drove up and down but nothing!

        I took chick inside to prevent it from becoming catfood or to get under a car.
        Now I have no idea what to feed it, how ften to feed it. Do you have any advice? I was thinking of mixing baby bird handrearing porridge and force feed it but am not sure!

        Any suggestions?

        Annelie Hanekom

      • Johan Kotze10-23-13

        Hi guys, we now also belong to the “dikkop”society .We have a breeding pair in the garden next door with two freshly laid eggs. We will be watching the progress of the eggs and keep you guys posted!
        this afternoon everybody flew out of the house to chase away a dog that were very interested in the dikkoppe,but the birds did not need us,they managed very well without us, the dog took off like a shot!

      • Sandra Dickson11-14-13

        Hi, It is that time again. In spite of now having 7 cats, the two nesting dikkop birds returned to me garden for the fourth time to nest. Two chicks hatched, but the following day I found the smallest one abandoned by its parents. It was too weak to keep up with them.

        I took the little thing in and started to feed it crushed or shelled snails. It is now 3 days later and the chick is still eating and growing. It responds to my voice and knows food is coming!

        Hope this turns out well. The other chick is still I the garden with its parents.

  2. Bridgette11-17-10

    We found a baby dikkop in our horses field on our smallholding in Blanco, George on Sunday. We looked everywhere and listened out but could find no trace of the parents. At the time we were not sure what type of bird it was and assumed that perhaps it had fallen out of a nest in one of the bluegum trees. I’m tube feeding it and giving it worms. I saw a dikkop on the road up to our farm and I took the baby there to see if it would come to it but the adult dikkop flew off and did not come to check out the baby. I only found out afterwards that I should have left it alone as apparently the parents leave the young on their own and feed further away from it to distract any attention away from it. Can anyone please give me advice on hand rearing little “Didi” the dikkop? Also advice on re-introducing it to “the wild”? It is very weak in the mornings so I’ll be setting my alarm clock for 2am to heat up the hot water bottle and feed it. Hopefully it will make a difference.

    • Sandra Dickson01-04-11

      What was the outcome with Didi? I am looking for help too.

    • Rozana10-30-11

      Hallo Brigette,

      feed the baby earth worms, krickets & you can get wonder wurms or “meel wurms” at any good petshop. Ask for live insects. Keep the warm waterbottle up, cover him with alight blankie or towel. He will soon get stronger and start eating and pecking at the insects without you having to immobalise them. We have a similair situation and thelittle thing is growing strong very quickly. All the best.

      Rozana 0833570158

  3. Sandra Dickson01-04-11

    The dikkop birds in my garden does not have much success. The latest two chicks hatched this morning. Temperature was about 33 degreec Celcius today. What I do not understand is how immobile these chicks actually are. Or they may have a problem with their leg development with this pair of Dikkoppe.

    I was contemplating trying to feed the weakest chic, but decided not to do it. I have no idea how to do it and the Internet does not have much on Dikkop birds. Actually its a shame tha there is so little information on a South African bird out there.

    I checked this evening and the weakest one is even weaker, it will probably not make it. This makes me very sad. I hope the stronger one makes it. Otherwise the poor two birds will have to attempt their fourth breeding effort in one season.

    Anyone with more information on these birds, please help.

  4. jeni jedeikin01-27-11

    i am so relieved to find this site, this morning i found a “dikkop” nearly drowned in my pool. I rescued it only to be shouted and screamed at by the snarling little terror!!! I let it rest and dry in a dark warm box till it perked up and let it out in the garden to more snarling!!!! now it sat in the sun to dry and then promptly hopped back into the pool…dikkop???? it cant get out so now i have to build a ramp and hope it is happy living in my garden, thank you for the information and i am thankful i identified it in my old unused bird book!!! jeni oranjezicht cape town

  5. Keith Roberts01-30-11

    Hi there Dikkop community, we are in the heart of Sandton, Morningside but have a vacant 5 acre stand next to us which has become overgrown. A pair of Dikkops are nesting in a very private spot which is unlikely to be disturbed by humans or cats, though rats could be a problem. Photography with a long lens from our apartment will be easy and non-intrusive. We will keep you posted on this blog. Cheers, Keith.

  6. Carolyn Metcalfe02-09-11

    I have some success with raising birds and took in 2 dikkop chicks 3 weeks ago which had been rescued from stone throwing children. One was badly injured and died, the other is still with me. I keep it in my bird room, a space devoted to birds that need to be made to stay put but which need freedom to exercise. It is extremely wild and I have been gently opening it’s beak and giving it several little ‘slugs’ of food about 3 – 4 times per day. (I know they are nocturnal, but I am not!) We rattle along quite well but it is getting more and more furious with me and I shall probably release it in a day or two – it is now definitely a teenager and should do well on my friend’s farm where there are other dikkops. I have a large basin of water in the bird room, plenty of straw and food is a mixture I have been using successfully for years to raise egret and ibis, also swifts, swallows, that sort of thing: 1 whole hard boiled egg (shells ground up separately in mortar and pestle if the birds are young and very tiny, very fine. As they get older one can simply put the whole lot in food processor. I feel the eggshells simulate insect shells and also provide calcium) about 500gr mince, 1 small carrot grated finely, about half a cup of good quality dog food thoroughly soaked first. All in food processor or mix by hand. Don’t over feed. Don’t expect them to be grateful.

    • Ron Keytel03-18-11

      Hi Carolyn, just lost my 4th breeding but the parents have moved off now, which is maybe good, for our human trauma.
      I would be interested to hear how you went with your chicks, as we have done this before with other abandoned birds, though having cats and dogs does not make the orphans aware of the danger, and they most probually dont last long, although the Dikkops are very aggressive which could help


      Ron Keytel

  7. Hennie Hugo02-11-11

    I just love Dikkops. They are very clever and the babies can play “dead” like no other bird that I have seen before. The parents are very protective (us adults should be alike with our children!). The small ones grows very fast but I think that they often fell pray to cats.
    Long live the Dikkop!

  8. Janice Inns07-08-11

    Our neighbours have a pair of Dikkops plus their two chicks, which have survived and are about the same size as the parentsnow. Recently they disappeared for about 3 weeks, but a couple of days ago all four are back. I am wondering how long they stay together as a family.

  9. Sanet09-26-11

    Hi our national park’s ranger asked me to rare a Dikkop baby. Its one week old now. I have made a special space in my flat next to my bed for him/her. The first couple of days I cut up pieces of springbok meat that was dipped in egg and fine bird seeds. Now Ive managed to collect quite a bit of earth worms, moths, larvae etc. from around the house and of course dedicated friends:-) I also alternate his diet between the springbok with mince that is mixed with seeds. Once in a while it will get raw chicken livers. Dikkie love laying flat on its belly in the sun during the day and closer to the evening on a luke warm water bottle. Its only a week old and the first day weighed in at 200g after 7 days it ways 250grams and is very strong and very lively at night. He/she lets me know during the night when its time to eat, so in 8 weeks time it should be at the stage of a fledgling. We will start our evening “walks” in the garden after 4 weeks:-) if all goes well.

  10. Ann10-10-11


    I have been privileged to have a pair nest outside my house on the sandy, stoney verge. It was only the behavour of the adult birds that caught my attention, and low and behold I discovered two very camouflaged eggs in a shallow unlined scrape. After approximately 3 weeks two chicks arrived and appear ro be thriving. I keep an eye on them daily as lots of cats around but sometimes they are so difficult to spot as they blend in and lie so flat and still.
    On Sunday, which was very hot, I didn’t see the whole family and was very concerned that I had lost them. This morning I went out to take a look and was so relieved to see them all together in their usual place again. I watched them toddle off around the corner to a more grassy area where I presume they will spend the day.
    I only hope the chicks will survive the daily hazzards.

  11. Carole Garnett10-18-11

    Please can someone help …. a pair dikkops have two eggs on my neighbour’s grass verge …. she hates birds. The Dikkops keep wandering to my garden by an oak tree, is it safe for me to move the eggs to under my Oak or best to leave them to their fate ? Its distressing me … Carole Kempton Park

  12. Dee10-25-11

    Hi Carole, I have only seen your query now, I will ask our Nature Reserve Managers to respond. Dee

  13. Tommy Gibson10-30-11

    Found a pair with one chick in our suburban home in Benoni. is this normal for this to happen in a build up area?

    We have avoided them as much as possible does any one know if they will take up “permanent residence” or will they move on once the chick can fly.

  14. Jeremy Walker10-31-11

    I’ve also been feeling the concern expressed by other “Dikkop landlords”. This is the 2nd year we’ve had a pair in our garden at Grangehurst, Stellenbosch. Not sure if it’s the same pair, but I think so as they’ve laid their two eggs in the same place as last year. They didn’t hatch last year, but 4 days ago one of the eggs hatched, and the other egg hatched the next day. Two cute little chicks now roaming around with their folks, but they disappear from time to time. We’ve got a resident mongoose that lives in the vicinity and I really hope these little chicks make it. Would love to see the family of four surviving.

  15. Adrian11-02-11

    I have been given a “Dikkop” Chick (its only a few days old) whose mother was run over. I Have raised a swallow chick by feeding it puppy food and insects this was easy as the chick readily opened its mouth when hungry. but the Dikkop I presume forage themselves in the wild as this one has to be force fed with a syringe. I have tried to gently pry open the beak with my fingers but its lower beak is very soft and almost kinks if too much pressure is applied. using a syringe from the side of the beak seems to work best but still a struggle

    It also cries incessantly only respite is when you hold it in your hand then it is semi quiet.

    How many days/weeks until it can self feed.

    How many days/weeks until it can safely be released?

    Any tips would be appreciated

    • Ron Keytel11-10-11

      Thanks for your news, the toughest part is trying to release them back into the wild when they have become unafraid of humans cats & dogs.Good luck Ron Keytel

    • Henrietta10-26-12

      Hi we have a dik kop chick very small and need to feed it have you received any answers to your questions? If so please let us know. Thank you

    • Amanda11-19-12

      Hi Adrian

      Did you get any answers to you questions. I have almost the same questions, can you give me any advice. My Dikkop baby was found the day it hatched, I have it now for 4 days it is strong and sometimes eat by itself. Im not shore how much i should feed it and how often. Any advice will help.
      Regards Amanda

  16. chantelle11-18-11

    Hi guys – we had a couple with their two eggs in the garden, but when I got home today the entire family was missing. Not even an eggshell in sight. Any ideas?

  17. Tannje Strauss12-02-11

    What a relief to find this site. I just bought a property and inherited a dikkop family, currently nesting two egss. The concern(problem) I have, is that I am also the owner of two dogs (Pom and Foxterrier). For the last 3 days I have tried to introduce dogs to the family, but Nina (Foxterrier) sees them as ideal chasing mates. The neighbours are willing to adopt the dikkop family, but we are worried about the nesting period and when will be ideal period to relocate them and how?

    Anybody with advise?

    • Ron Keytel12-22-11

      3 years later, we have still got ours, although there was a change in mates (unfortunate death, the period of mourning seemed to be about 10 mins, and a new mate was grabbed in about 3 weeks,lots of night time calling)

      Nothing seems to disturb them and as we both work they do get “quiet” time during the day.

      One presumes that if the dogs continue to disturb, they will move off.

      Dogs are trainable, what I mean by that is I think you have time.


  18. Tommy Jamie12-22-11

    We live in Pretoria in a security complex and have had a pair of dikkops in our front garden for 5 years now. They have 3 to 4 sets of little ones each summer (always 2). Most times they survive but on the odd occasion are run over by a car when they still small and not street wise.(much to the distress of our family) Once they get to 6 weeks old all 4 disappear for a day or two and than only the parents come back. Would love to know where they go. Shortly after the parents come back they lay again. Two hatched this morning so we will have fun watching their antics over the holidays.
    Merry Christmas everyone.

  19. Gillian12-28-11

    I live in Pinelands, Cape Town. A pair of Dikkops made my front hedge their home about two months ago – then voila! there were three chicks. They wander away but always return. The problem is they seem to have taken the ‘spot’ of another breed of bird – quite large, who stands at the hedge and screeches like a demon for hours on end. sounds like a peacock, and is a very distressing sound – I have been told it’s a francolin, but don’t agree. Can generally mute the noise by turning on the sprinklers … but as we are in a water rationing area – this is not always possible 🙁
    I also have to contend with two cats clawing at the curtains to “get at ’em” – ah, the joys!

  20. SYLVIA JOUBERT03-08-12


  21. Boet Pheiffer10-26-12

    Hi, I also have a dikkop family in my garden, we live on the Mossel Bay Golf Estate. There are many Dikkops here almost every 4’th home has a Dikkop. Ours has now got one egg they have been hatching for about 14 days, they are quite aggresive and getting more so every day. I have almost made friends with them because they allow me to get as close as 2 metres to them. I dont know if this is normal. They also have the habbit of fihgting with their reflections in my patio doors normaly at about 4 in the morning.

  22. Etienne Harris10-31-12

    A pair of Dikkops settled out of the blue in the garden outside my office. They laid two eggs of which only one hatched some time ago. At this stage the baby is as big as the mother and father. They are my babies and I spend every day some time “talking” to them. They are in fact so tame that I can come within a meter of them and they appear quite comfortable with my presence. Now I am watching to see when the big baby girl is going to leave and the next eggs are laid! Love the Dikkops!

    PS Some time ago a black rabbit arrived in our garden and he took to the birds! Wherever the birds are the rabbit will settle down!

  23. Samantha11-10-12

    Hi, i have just recently bought a small piece of land which i am soon going to build on. However there is a pair of dikkops that have recently had two chicks that seem very young. I am afraid that the process of building may hurt the chicks or scare the perants away. Was wondering if there was any way of relocating them.

  24. Linda11-14-12

    We have 3 dikkops in our garden,we believe 2 are parents other being the baby,which is now same size as parents.Over the last 3 wks every time the’baby’wanders around the garden the other two chase it away.Any one know what is going off here,it’s very distressing watching it.Wish it would just fly away.This is second year they have been in the garden but haven’t seen this happening before.Any ideas.

    • Sandra Dickson12-15-12

      The Dikkop chicks are very reluctant to fly. I have 2 Dikkop birds in my garden for about 3 years now. The first year they bred 3 times and only one chick survived in the end. The chasing is the way to get the chick to fly and to fend for itself. So, do not worry about it. He will learn his lesson!

  25. Amanda11-19-12

    I found a baby dikkop 4 days ago, I think that was the same day it was hatched. I’m feeding it mice and some times it eats by it self. it is very quite and love it to bits. Could anyone tel me how often should it be fed and how much must it eate. Some days it eat more then other days. And if I feed it mince how much water must i give it.

  26. Heather Scott01-02-13

    Also pleased to discover this site. I read that dikkops can have more than one nest at the same time – perhaps that is why they come and go. We have two that nest in an unfenced corner plot right on the main road, Froggy Pond, Simon’s Town; they are at risk from cats, dogs, meerkats, owls, snakes…. The chicks often meet a sad end, and I wish that we could protect them somehow. The route across the road, down to the beach must be ‘in the genes’, and is highly risky. Yes, the adults are brave, but, from my experience of them, not very intelligent.

  27. Lindsey Jefferies01-08-13

    I have a pair of Dikkops in my garden with their little chicks which hatched on Christmas Eve. I watch them every night hunting for food and then calling the little ones to come eat. It is really the sweetest. The only bad thing is that I have been unable to mow my lawn so my little squatter family now owns the untidy property.

  28. Nina Molate01-15-13

    hi guys,

    even after finding out about these birds, im still traumatised by these unfamiliar and “unfriendly” birds, well, to me they look unfriendly because i tried to chase them away and they were just starring at me. The fact that they are invading my space, they just make me to hate them more. I started noticing them just after Christmas 2012 and I have been hoping they will go away. I started by calling SPCA which they referred me to Free Me Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. today, 15.01.13 that’s when i got to learn about them. They irittate the hell out of me, especially at night when they make “that noise”.

    Anyone who wants to adopt them, please drop me an e-mail or call me URGENTLY ON 082 263 9659


  29. Madelein Wentzel02-03-13

    We have a pair of Dikkoppe in a neighbors garden that we have been “following” since September. They had 2 chicks which became quite big and then one day the whole family vanished. (the chicks were quite big already – almost the same size as the adults.) after a few weeks we noticed them in another neighbors garden, but this time there was only one chick.

    Now they are back in the original neighbors garden(just the mom and dad) and they are laying on a new set of eggs.

    But, we are curious about the 1st set of chicks. Would they have moved on by themselves or are they dead? They must have been at least 12 weeks old when we stopped seeing them. At what age are these chicks mature? Does anyone know?

  30. Pauline Hollis03-06-13

    Hi, we live in Jacobsbaai on the West Coast and noticed a Dikkop sitting at the beginning of February in the farm area behind our house. We carefully watched every day and by our reckoning the babies should have hatched by the 24/25 Feb at the latest. However, it is now the 6 March and they are still sitting. Obviously the eggs are infertile and we are wondering how long they will continue to sit and wait and hope? It’s so sad to think that all that time has passed for nothing. Will they eventually realise that it’s not going to happen?? A friend of mine once had a tame goose that sat for months on a brick until they popped some fertile chicken eggs under her!!

  31. Zelda05-21-13

    Hi, we have 2 Dikkoppies in our office garden. (Weltevreden Park) Now they are going to put in irrigation in the flower beds where our 2 birdies have been staying for the past couple of months. How will the irrigation influence our “tenants”. Is there anything we can do – maybe a birdhouse on the ground? Any advice would be appreciated as we have grown very fond of our Dikkoppies.

  32. Simoné10-13-13

    My dikkop , Pikkie , is sick and don’t know why , I saved him from kids throwing him around had him for 5 days , was healthy before but know it just lies down and wont walk . I feed him mealworms and earthworms . Please help and fast..

  33. Nicky10-15-13

    Hi I have been raising a baby dikkop that my dog found and brought it to me by helping it on with her nose. I have been feeding it raw mince and eggs for the last 3 and a half weeks and are growing fast and seems to be very healthy. I noticed 2 days ago though that it’s mouth is not perfectly overlapping anymore and seems to start to “cross over”. He now struggles to pick up small things, but are still able to eat bigger pieces of food. Why is this happening and what can I do about it. Plse help me. I have been a wreck for the last nearly four weeks. Never done this before and really want to help the little one to grow up strong and able to feed itself in the wild. Thank you kindly.

  34. colin11-01-13

    We often have dikoppies nesting in our garden and we are very ‘protective’ over them – this year has been no different. We have had a pair with us for a few weeks now and recently laid their eggs. However, during the night last night we heard a bit of a commotion and again this morning. I was quick to investigate on the 2nd occasion and saw a cat with one of the newly hatched fledglings it it’s mouth. I chased the cat but it seemed as if the tiny baby was already a bit hurt. Given that it was a bit of a cold and miserable morning in Cape Town I placed the little one back in the nest area in one of our beds. I observed for a while and noticed that the parents were keeping their distance. In fear that the little one would be completely abandoned and die in the cold morning air we decided to bring it in and try as best as we could to give it warmth and security.

    That was around 08h30 am this morning. It is now 16h07 and I am happy to say that the little one is doing ok. We have managed to feed the little one a small amount and have placed a an electric blanket on low temp under the box that we have it in.

    We managed to hand raise a little dove last year from very small after it fell out of it’s nest and I am sure that this little one will be a real survivor.

    We absolutely love these birds and if anyone can offer any advice we would greatly appreciate it.

  35. Claus Wencke11-11-13

    As we approached home tonight at about 21.00, we were suddenly confronted with what seemed like a traffic official, cautioning us to slow down. A dikkop mother had spread her wings to the full, underside white, as if to say to us: stop!! (which we did), my young ones are on the street. This resolute, protective, caring behaviour by the mother of two chicks left a deep impression on us.

  36. Glenys Kelly11-13-13

    We live in a complex in Glenvista. We currently have a pair of Dikkops behind the house. They had two eggs but must have discarded one of them. It was amazing how the mother sat on her egg through a hail storm. Looking forward to the hatching in about 22 days.

  37. Glenys Kelly11-13-13

    About 20 minutes ago I saw the Dikkop sitting on the egg, now when I looked the egg is gone as well as the Dikkops. I can only assume a mongoose must have stolen the egg. 🙁

  38. Chantel Swart11-13-13

    Hi everyone! I have dikkoppies nesting in our front yard every year. I’ve been living in this house for 6 years now and sure it is the same pair every time. Unfortunately they have never had any success. None of the babies make it past 3 days! There is always a cat that eats them at night. I am a sucker for animals and I know it is not a good idea to interfere with nature, but decided this is the year I must do something to help these birds have a successful year. I think many in the same situation will be able to relate. You watch the whole process unfold you get attached, just to have your heart broken yet again.. So I am going to do this experiment this year. I made a big pen in the front lawn, just high enough so that the chicks cannot get out, and of course the top is open for mom and dad to fly in to tend to babies. I will let mom and dad tend to the babies in the day and I will bring the babies inside at night and of course do night feeds etc. Just until they can manage on their own. My dikkoppies do not strike me as if they will abandon their babies with my interference. So eggs hatched today and tonight will be the first night. I just think they will have a better chance with my interference than if I just left them… So I will give you updates. I hope you all will understand. Feeding them ProNutro tonight. Please share your thoughts. Kind Regards

  39. Chantel Swart11-14-13

    Good morning, night one is over thank goodness…The most difficult thing about this experiment is taking the babies away from the parents at night, my heart aches. Feeding was difficult because babies are not use to it yet, but with each feed it got a little bit easier. I woke up every hour to feed and warm up the wheat bag for a minute on 70. that last for about an hour placed under a towel. I also put a cloth over them helps them sleep. At crack of dawn I put them in the pen I made. The parents being Dikkoppe took about 10 minutes to figure out they must go into the pen from the top. The height of my pen I made is about 25cm. And as I suspected she took them back! I am so relieved. The reason why I placed them in a pen is, the parents usually after about 2 days take babies for walks out of my yard. Thats when they get lost or eaten by crows, cats or fall into drains. Having them in the pen allow me to collect them at night easily. I also put branches in the pen for shelter and hiding place. I will update results every few days. This might be extreme, but hey they are alive for now. Kind Regards

  40. Chantel Swart11-17-13

    Today the two baby Dikkoppies are 5 days old! Ok so my plan to place them in a pen in the daytime did not work. On the first day the parents went in once and then they ended up sitting on the outside right next to the pen. I think the problem was that you can see through the pen. I think I would have had better luck if the parents could not see through.

    Oh well so I decided every morning I will make sure that the parents saw where I placed them. I put them in the same place and keep an eye on them every now and then, just to make sure they are OK and have not run off with them.

    Luckily for me I have observed the past behaviour of my pair every year. Normally when their eggs hatch and three days later the babies are gone, eaten by a cat or something… The parents will always call their babies for days in our front yard hoping to locate them. So that’s how I knew I can give them back to them in the morning, they will be there.

    So Thursday morning when I went out the parents were not there, and oh boy did I panic…I thought I will have to raise them on my own now… But lucky for me they came back a little later, I rushed to reunion them.

    So all in all my plan is working the real parents look after them in the day and I look after them at night. On the 15th and 16th of November it was the weekend of the floods in Cape Town. So I do not think they would have survived if I left them outside with their parents at night.

    I am feeding them scrambled eggs and occasional earthworm using a tweezer to feed them. I notice their poop are yellow when they eat the egg and when I take them for night it is green from food they ate in the day. So hopefully they get a balanced diet in all.

    They have a routine where I feed them then I warm up the wheat bag that I place under a towel then I put a cloth over them. They sleep for about an hour more or less. I do not set a timer any more they wake me up when I need to feed them.

    They each have their own personality one is more dominant. I can see why only one usually survives. So I make sure I feed them equal amounts of food. I identify them by the subtle different markings on their heads.

    I am really enjoying this experience, must say it is exhausting though, but well worth it. I will not normally do this but they have no chance to be successful in my front yard to many things count against them, cats dogs etc. My goal is to have a successful year for once! Making sure both babies have a chance in life.

  41. Keith Taylor12-25-13

    Hello everyone,
    I am a naturalist who has been observing nature for the past forty years and more. One of the problems we have to face is that the most successful animal on the planet, namely mankind, is occupying far more space than than he should. Even worse is the fact that he spreads even farther with each passing day.
    It may seem cruel to some, but there are mechanisms in place to ensure that no species dominates the scene for very long and one of these mechanisms is making baby animals extremely vulnerable to “thinning out” by predation, disease, starvation and a number of other methods. As mankind has managed to circumvent these mechanisms, we are the greatest threat to the natural environment.
    In the case of the dikkops, the parents tend to be very protective of their chicks until they reach a certain age, whereupon they abandon them and leave them to fend for themselves, just as you expect your kids to eventually “get a decent job” and start providing for themselves.
    As with humans, some dikkops are better parents than others, the maladapted parents losing their babies more often than the better adjusted ones.
    Domestic cats are a human-introduced “alien” species and do not belong in South Africa, whereas the dikkops are indigenous and DO belong here. If cats are killing the dikkops, it is actually the dikkops that should receive preferential treatment … but not many people are willing to get rid of their “pets”, no matter how vulnerable are the indigenous creatures that their cats are killing.
    As dikkops eat the eggs and chicks of other ground-nesting birds, the balance is held by the dikkop chicks being very fragile, so that only a certain number of them survive more than a few weeks. Were this not so, other birds would be in jeopardy due to dikkop predations upon them.
    I know that it is very difficult for some people not to interfere, but, unless the species is endangered, as our rhinos are now, the best thing we can do is leave well enough alone and let nature take its course. Chasing the animals (in this case birds) away so that they no longer stress you is not fair. If you can’t stand it, YOU must move away: they were there long before you and YOU are trespassing on THEIR ground.
    For the Christians and people of other religions: this is the way your God created the world and if you don’t like it, it your your God’s handiwork with which you are unhappy. I do not know how well He will handle your criticism.
    Thank you.

  42. Lisa Di Domenico12-29-13

    Hi there,

    We recently found a cape dikkop with a broken leg. It seems as if the knee joint has been severly injured. We know that the probabilty of the bird, who we have named Zeus, will recover fully, we are wondering what we can do to help this bird. He refuses to eat and it is obvious that his broken leg has prevented him from successfully finding food. Do you have any tips for us?


  43. Ron Keytel01-03-14

    Very difficult to feed, they dont eat “normal birdfood” in wild they eat wet inspects, which they scavage under bushesand damp grasses.

    I you have access to the “Roberts Bird Books” escpecially the later versions they do describe what the different bird species eat.

    Good luck

    Ron Keytel

  44. Taryn01-12-14

    I’ve just phoned one of these ‘dikkop’ birds,seems to still be young bt not a chick. It was lying on the ground just about moving its mouth,ants seemed to have gotten to it. I took it in,washed it off and found that its wing was broken,it has a bone sticking out. Also seems to have a problem with one of its legs on the same side as the wing. I’ve phoned a bird sanctuary an they can’t pick it up,unfortunately have no way of getting there. I’m so sad about the situation,don’t think the bird will make it esp if it can’t move. If it doesn’t get eaten it will probably die of hunger.

  45. Gillian01-15-14

    We have a breeding pair in our parking lot at work. All areas are tared, with only a small area around a few scatttered tree’s. I have on several occasions watched as huge muscle building men accidentally walking through the areas they are, scream like girls as these birds protect their area.

  46. Zelda01-26-14

    Hi I found a baby dikkop with a broken leg can he survive with one leg thanks

  47. Louise Venter03-04-14

    Good morning to all the DIKKOP Fans.
    We have a couple of Spotted Thick Knee-Dikkops that moved into our garden on 2 November 13.At first they were here on and off between us and our neighbours garden in Kempton Park.As our neighbours garden is not enclosed, the Dikkops were disturbed there by dogs regularly.We were fortunate, that they have chosen our garden as their new breeding spot.
    They came back regularly to feed at night time and early mornings.We were woken every morning by their calls at about 5am.
    Then on the 9 February 14 they decided to stay. Our garden is enclosed and quiet but we have 3 cats. But the cats know there territory by now, as the Dikkops chase them away if they get close to there territory.The cats only have half the garden to rome around in.But fortunately the cats are all elderly and sleep most of the day and are not a big threat to the DIKKOPS.
    The Dikkops are visible through our large bedroom window and we can watch them all day round with binoculars, what a privilage we have!
    They occupy the full side garden next to our house. In the morning they would sit close to our window about 2 meters away in a rocky garden patch, next to a rose bush, and hide under the tree to shelter from the morning son. When it becomes midday, and the son moves over into their spot, they move to another spot in the garden against the wall under the small trees and bushes into the shade,where they have made their nest lately.Late afternoons they would move to the front garden and sit on the warm paving until dusk. Then their calling starts and they start running around the whole length of the side garden in our view.We find them most amusing! They even started chasing the doves away from the bird barth as well. On Saturday afternoon we saw the male even chasing a large Hahida away on the grass close to their nest. On Sunday afternoon we saw the 1st egg was layed, and we were disappointed that we had missed the wonderful occation. Now they were standing over the nest keeping watch of any danger and preditors. This morning, 4 March 14, 2 days later we were so privelaged to see the female laying her 2nd egg. We took a video as well of the special occation! Now only she is sitting on the nest and starting to breed.We are so excited to hopefully see the baby chicks hatch by the end of the month.
    We will then take the cats out with a leash!!
    We all hope to have the opportunity of seeing the chicks grow up to adulthood!

  48. Barbara03-20-14

    There are 2 adults with 2 young adults who come to my 96 year old mother’s door every day. They cheep until she throws them some Wheatsworth cracker crumbs. They seem to be thriving. They also eat the snails and whatever else they are digging for. Would the biscuit crumbs be harming them in any way, and why do they love them so much? They almost take them out of our hand. They live in the grounds of an old age home and are relatively safe from predators.

  49. Karen05-22-14

    Hi everyone,

    I have been adopted by a young dikkop (Toktok). It appeared 2 days ago when I was feeding the horses, and followed me around until I left for work. When I got home, he was still there, and decided that my house was a really good place to stay.
    I discovered the next day that our neighbourhood Vet had released 2 on the Sunday, so 2 days before this one appeared at my place. I dont know what happened to the friend unfortunately.
    Its now day 3 and I’m getting used to Toktok joining me for my morning equine feeding routine. Fortunately it is old enough to feed itself, but when it comes inside I give it water, and it likes bread.
    It seems to enjoy the company, as it will often just stand next to my chair while I work in the evening.
    it really is rather cute in a gangly sort of way. Hopefully soon it will find a mate amongst the chicks that hatch on the smallholding

  50. Robert Frater09-02-14

    I was born in 1928. I grew up in Rondebosch. We had a large garden and for several years in the early 50’s had a pair of Dikkops in our garden despite having dogs and cats (and a flock or homing pigeons). My mother and my much younger brother kept track of them the way so many of you have. They did not feed or try to rear chicks however.Eventually they wrote up their observations and sent their account to Country Life in England which published it. This specialconnection with humans is I suppose because they nest on the ground.

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