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The Hadeda Ibis and the Eagle

Updated on May 27, 2012
Long-crested Eagle and lunch
Long-crested Eagle and lunch | Source
Haheda Ibis digging for a meal
Haheda Ibis digging for a meal | Source


The Hadeda and the Eagle.


Every birding outing that we go on in East London (South Africa) provides an interesting experience or two and this morning’s one, to Mike Mangold’s farm on the Nahoon River and Dam, was no exception. We met at the Beacon Bay Library at 06h30 and were soon on the two walks on which our host led us.

We saw and recorded the sighting of some good birds for the S.A.Bird Research Programme (SABAP2) including several Sunbirds, a couple of Kingfishers, some beautiful Yellow-billed Ducks, a pair of Red-necked Grebes, a Reed Comorant sunning itself, and a pair of quite rare Swee-Waxbills.

It was, however, a bird flying high overhead that drew our attention. As it soared on the thermals, circling high in the sky looking for prey, we strained or eyes and necks to identify it. Until then the only raptors we had seen had been a pair of Fish Eagles. “It must be a Black Eagle”, someone called out and indeed it was black against the sunlit sky. But then to everyone’s amazement someone said, “It’s a Hadeda”, and that was in fact exactly what it was. This Hadeda, doing a pretty good Eagle imitation, reminded me of a story I once told at a school assembly.(the idea came from Leo Buschalia I have to admit)

One day a Hadeda called out to its Mom, “I want to be like that Eagle soaring high in the sky and then swooping down to catch the Rock Rabbits for lunch! That must be so much fun.” At the same time the young Eagle soaring above cried out to its Mom, “Why can’t I be like that Hadeda pulling those lovely fat juicy worms out of the ground for lunch?” And so they decided to swap for a day.

After a couple of hours of absolute frustration the Hadeda had not managed to come even close to getting something to eat. He found that while he could fly quite high and if he squinted carefully, could see the Rock Rabbits, he simply did not have the wings to swoop fast enough to catch one. In any case his claws and beak were actually not suited at all to catch, carry and tear apart any animal.

The Eagle had also spent some frustrating time and effort in the field nearby trying to dig out a worm, but also with no success. He soon found that with his short hooked beak the worms were quite safe and that he was in fact doing some serious damage to his beak as he tried to dig into the soil for the elusive worms and so after a while gave up.

We as humans are somewhat like the Hadeda and the Eagle in always wanting to be like someone else. If only I could be as good looking, as clever, as strong, fast, creative etc as so and so, then my life would be so much better. The trouble is that you are who you are and you have particular abilities and capabilities that no one else has. It is better to take a good look at self and say, “How can I be the very best me that I can be!” A lesson the Hadeda and the Eagle had to learn the hard way.


By the way, we did see a Long-crested Eagle sitting on a telephone pole as we returned to where our cars were parked to enjoy a post-hike brunch and discussion. Hopefully the Eagle was contemplating what possibility it had of catching a Rock Rabbit for lunch. And was that the same Hadeda who had been flying high in the sky who was now on the nearby lawn probing with success for a nice fat worm?


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    • Gill Harris profile image

      Gill Harris 6 years ago from South Africa

      Lovely read. Thanks. I think as an eagle :) I will do my best to continue to soar and try not to worry about the worms that I may be missing out on!

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