Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Warka Tree and Birds

The Warka, Maraito or Daero Tree (Ficus vasta) is a ficus tree endemic to the Horn of Africa and Southern Arabia. They are fascinating large trees up to 25m tall with wide rounded crown. It appears often as single giant in the landscape and plays an important role in the ecosystem. They have a high fruit yield of figs, which have about 2 cm in diameter and hang on the tree as grapes. When the fruits are ripe and mature the trees attract insects. Both the fruits and the insects are an enticement for birds which come in large flocks. The trees have fruits at different times and sometimes individual trees are the meeting place for the bird fauna a large area.

Ficus vasta
Warka tree (Ficus vasta) in Northern Ethiopia.

Ficus vasta Ethiopia
Warka tree in a forest.

To find such a tree is like going inside a bird aviary in a zoo. It is unbelievable, it is loud, constantly falls down something from the tree and it is full with very different bird species. The photos are made on a large tree (in the Adua area, Tigray Northern Ethiopia), surrounded by several other trees in a bushy area along a river. Within a short time I saw Ethiopian Orioles, Cardinal Woodpeckers, Northern Crombecs, Wood Hoopoes, one Black-Headed Batis, Plantain Eaters, Black-winged Lovebirds, different starlings and many other birds.
Unfortunately, the trees slowly disappear from the landscape. Meanwhile, there are protection activities and one can only hope that they are successful. If you have the possibility to travel in Ethiopia, have a look for large ficus trees, sometimes they contain a great surprise.

Black-Headed Batis Ethiopia
Black-Headed Batis (Batis minor)

Phoeniculus somaliensis
Black-billed Wood Hoopoe (Phoeniculus somaliensis)

Agapornis taranta
Black-winged Lovebird (Agapornis taranta)

Lamprotornis chalybaeus
Blue-eared Starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus)

Treron waalia
Well camouflaged, a pair of Bruce's Green Pigeon (Treron waalia).

Dendropicos fuscescens
Cardinal Woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscescens)

Eastern Grey Plantain-eater Ethiopia
Eastern Grey Plantain-eater (Crinifer zonurus)

Oriolus monacha
Ethiopian Oriole (Oriolus monacha)

Nectarinia tacazze

Taccaze sunbird (Nectarinia tacazze)

Sylvietta brachyura
Northern Crombec (Sylvietta brachyura)

Speckled Mousebird Ethiopia
Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus)

Cinnyricinclus leucogaster

Violet-Backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)

Not only birds are fascinated by the trees

Bush Hyrax Ethiopia
A Bush Hyrax (Heterohyrax brucei) is sleeping on a branch.

Many small animals attract also predators:

Long-crested Eagle Ethiopia
Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)

Shared with Wild Bird Wednesday, Nature Notes and Id rather b birdin.


  1. Beautiful series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  2. Beautiful serie of photos, great photowork!

  3. Fantastic birds and trees! Wonderful photos!

  4.!!! Would I ever love to go birding with YOU!! Awesome, incredible images.

    Sorry I didn't get around to visiting power due to storms!!

  5. Wunderschöne Fotos! Perfekte Fotos - als hätten sie für die Model gestanden!;)

  6. What an incredible array of birds! I only knew one of them. Thanks for this information. This looks like a great place to find lots of wonderful new species!!!

  7. It's like an entire ecosystem within one tree. I do hope they can be saved!

    Thanks for sharing this amazing variety of beautiful birds, all of which are new to me. How fortunate you are to be able to see these.

  8. Such a gorgeous nature post! I enjoy looking at each photo!

  9. Another tree threatened? I am glad to hear that there are protection projects as so many species are threatened and disappearing. I enjoy looking at these birds and comparing them to our own here in the states... Thank you for linking into Nature Notes this week... I enjoyed this post..Michelle


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