Bird of Prey Climbs Tree for Food
Recently we watched as an African Harrier Hawk, or Gymogene, dined on a frog at the Nkorho Pan waterhole. For a moment it looked as though the hawk was losing his balance, but a closer look revealed his remarkable ability to find those hidden tidbits and treats. His preferred mode of hunting finds him clambering along tree trunks or hanging onto tree limbs by his feet. Flapping his wings for balance, he searches in holes and crevices with his slender bill for hidden nestlings, eggs, insects and vertebrates, including the unlucky frog we watched at the waterhole. He's particularly fond of raiding the nests of Wood Hoopoes and Barbets, and has learned to watch for mobs of birds that raid a nesting site, as it alerts him to a possible foraging area. He also eats the fruit of the Oil Palm, often nesting in the crown. An area free of feathers on his face reveals a yellow patch of skin that flushes red when he locates and eats his prey. The average adult is from 60-66 cm in length, with a broad wingspan of 105-120 cm, a large bird but very agile. His double jointed legs enable him to get into and around areas that include not only the crevices in trees, but under objects on the ground as well. As a bird of prey he is fairly free of natural enemies, however the Fork Tailed Drongo, a naturally aggressive bird, is often seen trailing behind the hawk grabbing at his back and being a general nuisance. If you missed it, take a look at this interesting bird as he does a little hunting at one of our favorite waterholes.