Birding Without Borders

Day 239: Eagle vs. Hornbill

An encounter between two enormous birds.

August 27, 2015: Amani Nature Reserve, Tanzania — 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.

New birds today: 6
 
Year list: 4,076
 
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