“Revenge of the Hornbills: After a Tawny Eagle Attacks Them, Ground Hornbills Strike Back in Retaliation”
As an avid photographer, I always have my camera ready to capture special moments. On an early morning drive.
We were busy tracking a leopard in the central and northern parts of the reserve. We then came across a bull elephant. Brendan Davis, an apprentice guide, then spotted a ground hornbill family
Ground Hornbill Fights with Eagle in Tree
Ground hornbills are fascinating creatures and are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). With their deep, booming calls that can be heard from far away, they are known as the largest species of hornbill. Ground hornbills are also monogamous and have a unique social structure where they live in family groups consisting of a breeding pair and their offspring.
WATCH Another Hornbill Stand Its Ground and Destroy A Research Camera
“As we were observing the hornbill family, a Tawny Eagle suddenly swooped down and attacked them. It was surprising to see the eagle take on a family of ground hornbills, who are known for their aggressive nature. The hornbills were not going to let the eagle get away with its attack and started to confront it.”
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Tawny eagles, with their striking plumage and piercing eyes, are frequently seen in the African bush. They are opportunistic hunters and will prey on a variety of animals, including birds, lizards, and small mammals.
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“This gave us an incredible photographic opportunity to witness these two species going at it. After a prolonged tussle, the Tawny Eagle finally flew off, defeated.”
“This sighting was incredibly rare, and I don’t think I’ll ever witness anything like it again. If you’re planning a safari, my advice is to have patience and enjoy the bush at your own pace. You never know what you might come across. And if you do get lucky enough to witness a special sighting like this, treasure it and appreciate the natural world around you.”
We were watching a Crowned Hawk-Eagle (an African monkey-eating raptor) soar over the canopy this afternoon when half a dozen Silvery-cheeked Hornbills appeared and tried to drive the eagle away. They dive-bombed the eagle over and over, sometimes nearly striking the raptor’s tail before veering off. For its part, the eagle looked unconcerned; it traced lazy circles in the sky and appeared to be carrying part of some animal carcass.
I’ve seen this behavior before with all kinds of birds (Red-winged Blackbirds love to mob Red-tailed Hawks in Oregon, for instance), but it was pretty cool to watch the huge hornbills go after the even more enormous eagle! Eventually it tired of being harassed and swooped out of sight, and the hornbills returned to business as usual.
At dusk, Anthony showed us a spot where two African Broadbills were displaying, and, after dark, an endemic Usambara Eagle-Owl began calling right outside the entrance to our accommodation in the forest. It was a good end to our birding in the Usambara Mountains. We spent the whole day on foot today, which was also a welcome respite from life in the Land Cruiser. Tomorrow will be a long drive back to the civilization of Arusha, and I’ll catch a crack-of-dawn flight the following morning to Uganda.