Shenton Safaris

Titanic battle between squirrel and parrot

Written and photographed by Andre Botha

There is a largish leadwood tree near Nandzana waterhole in South Africa’s Kruger National Park which contains a much sought-after nest cavity that has been used by a range of species over the years.

Lilac-breasted roller, pearl-spotted owlet, yellow-billed hornbill, glossy starling, as well as tree squirrels, have been recorded using this cavity to nest or roost in. Sought-after real estate!

Squirrel, parrot, South Africa, Kruger National Park

First engagement with the squirrel ©Andre Botha

Brown-headed parrot, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Mrs Parrot looks on ©Andre Botha

On the morning of the 30th May, I witnessed a tussle between one of the current occupants of the nest, a pair of brown-headed parrots, and a tree squirrel which dared to venture too close to the nest.

Brown-headed parrot, squirrel, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Throwing a piece of bark at the squirrel ©Andre Botha

Brown-headed parrot, squirrel, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Verbally abusing the squirrel ©Andre Botha

The parrot pursued the squirrel several times and physically attacked it by biting it at least six times in about 20 minutes.

Brown-headed parrot, squirrel, South Africa, Kruger National Park

“Attack … Ouch!” ©Andre Botha

Brown-headed parrot, squirrel, South Africa, Kruger National Park

“That’ll teach you! Now stay away!” ©Andre Botha

The squirrel eventually retaliated and fought back, twice charging at the parrot and trying to bite it.

Brown-headed parrot, squirrel, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Squirrel fights back ©Andre Botha

Brown-headed parrot, squirrel, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Parrot wins in the end ©Andre Botha

Fortunately, the parrot was too quick and evaded serious damage while the squirrel’s tail look quite the worse for wear. It eventually scuttled down the tree and out of sight.

Brown-headed parrot, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Victory bow ©Andre Botha

The parrot stretched its wings in victory and went to the nest to share the news that all was safe before heading into the mopane-veld to forage.

I was spell-bound to witness this little battle before heading back to work. Always something worthwhile out there…

Brown-headed parrot, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Cavity nests are worth protecting ©Andre Botha



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