African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene)

The clown of the raptors, the African Harrier Hawk is often seen hanging upside down from a branch of a tree flapping its wings or scrambling along branches and sticking its legs into holes. Adults are dark grey, with yellow legs and feet, and yellow facial skin that will flush pink when the bird is excited. The underside is all grey and the tail is black with a gray bar across the middle. The Harrier Hawk has a double-jointed “knee” which enables it to bend its legs forward and backward. The preferred habitat is wooded riverine areas.

We had a stunning African Harrier Hawk sighting last night at sunset. He was busy with a hole in a Marula tree and after much hard work he flew off with what looked like a Bee-Eater’s chick in its claws. What a fantastic sighting!

By: Richard Venter – River Lodge Ranger