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Africa Geographic Travel
bird
© Anja Denker

I witnessed something that was both unsettling and enthralling in my garden in Windhoek, Namibia. One bird taking on another is nothing unusual, but on this occasion, a tiny owl killing and decapitating a sweet, colourful lovebird was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A young pearl-spotted owlet had been frequenting our garden and had become quite used to my presence. Early one morning, I was alerted to a commotion at the birdbath. So I grabbed my camera and investigated, only to find that the owlet had pinned a rosy-faced lovebird to the ground!

© Anja Denker

The hapless lovebird was still feebly flapping its wings when I arrived, but soon gave up the struggle. The owlet kept peering about as if deciding on the next course of action and eventually flew – with the lovebird trailing behind – onto the birdbath.

bird
© Anja Denker

It then proceeded to fly into a tree a few metres away, perched briefly before flying into a palm tree before reaching its final destination – a large jacaranda tree.

© Anja Denker

Wedging the lovebird into a secure position proved no easy task, and eventually – after much fluttering and hopping about with its prey – the owlet proceeded to decapitate the fated lovebird and to swallow its head – beak and all!

bird
© Anja Denker

It seized the rest of the carcass later that afternoon and thus had a very productive day, all in all.

This, incidentally, is the same pearl-spotted owlet which my rottweiler swallowed on a previous occasion. I will never forget the sight of two yellow feet sticking out of either side of its mouth and me galloping after dog and bird – on crutches and moon boot (I had a broken foot after clumsily falling down the stairs). I think the entire neighbourhood heard me as I screamed for the dog to let go and eventually managed to wrestle him down to the ground and prise his mouth open. The wet and bedraggled owl plopped to the ground – alive and unhurt!

bird
© Anja Denker

The tiny bird squawked indignantly and flew off into the nearest tree – but has amazingly not packed its bags and left for good.

© Anja Denker

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I am a Namibian by birth and live in Windhoek, my profession being a visual artist specialising in postage stamp design. I have always had an inherent love for wildlife and nature – especially lions and birds, and developed a passion for photography a few years ago. I am a keen observer and try to capture special and unexpected moments wherever I am. Conservation is close to my heart and I tried to raise awareness through postage stamp designs and by supporting the Desert Lion Conservation project. I am rarely parted with my camera and am fortunate to have a large garden with an abundant birdlife. My happiest moments are those that are spent outdoors, travelling around Namibia and other places, with my family and camera close by.

Africa Geographic Travel