Wildlife: Hunting techniques of African Harrier Hawk

06th January 2014
The Gymnogene (or Harrier Hawk) is odd among the raptors because it doesn't conform to the normal stereotype for a bird of prey. Slightly scrawny, with a small bill, and long gangly legs, it doesn't look much of a threat to anyone.







But it's learned to capitalise on a under-used food source - baby birds in inaccessible nests, and insects and other invertebrates hidden in crevices in trees.







I watched an adult bird feeding at a large Mopane tree recently. The starlings (whose nests it was hoping to raid) were making a huge racket and led me to the bird in the first place. They mobbed the raptor, seeking to chase it from the area, but the raptor continued to feed without paying much attention.









Its huge, broad wings and light-weigh body make it easy for it to hang upside down under branches or nests while foraging inside with its small head.

So it's not a favourite among the small bird world, but it's quite a character nonetheless. It will even flush its facial skin when stressed or during courtship!



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