Travel & conservation company, since 1991
See how we earn 5 starsTrustpilot - 5 stars
Africa Geographic Travel

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 of May, I witnessed a tussle between one of the current occupants of the nest, a pair of brown-headed parrots, and a tree squirrel that 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 looked 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

To comment on this story: Login (or sign up) to our app here - it's a troll-free safe place 🙂.


  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Browse our ready-made packages or answer a few questions to start planning your dream safari.
  • Subscribe to our FREE newsletter / download our FREE app to enjoy the following benefits.
  • Plan your safaris in remote parks protected by African Parks via our sister company - safari camps for responsible travellers

AG Logo

In the Guest Blogger profile, you'll see fresh and exciting content from a range of contributors who have submitted their content to us on a once-off or temporary basis, including press releases, campaigns and exciting adventure and travel tales!

Africa Geographic Travel
[wpforms id="152903"]
<div class="wpforms-container wpforms-container-full" id="wpforms-152903"><form id="wpforms-form-152903" class="wpforms-validate wpforms-form wpforms-ajax-form" data-formid="152903" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/stories/titanic-battle-squirrel-parrot/" data-token="659c926220f8ddd0214c6106430764e3"><noscript class="wpforms-error-noscript">Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.</noscript><div class="wpforms-field-container"><div id="wpforms-152903-field_1-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-email" data-field-id="1"><label class="wpforms-field-label wpforms-label-hide" for="wpforms-152903-field_1">Email Address <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="email" id="wpforms-152903-field_1" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][1]" placeholder="Email " required></div></div><div class="wpforms-submit-container"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[id]" value="152903"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[author]" value="3"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[post_id]" value="89321"><button type="submit" name="wpforms[submit]" id="wpforms-submit-152903" class="wpforms-submit" data-alt-text="Sending..." data-submit-text="Subscribe" aria-live="assertive" value="wpforms-submit">Subscribe</button><img src="" class="wpforms-submit-spinner" style="display: none;" width="26" height="26" alt="Loading"></div></form></div> <!-- .wpforms-container -->