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Dead Snake Chokes Bird

Dead Snake Chokes Bird

This intense moment unravels as a hornbill underestimates its victim and the dead snake fights back and chokes the bird – Was the meal worth the risk? This insane sighting happened just North of Satara in the Kruger National Park.

Dead Snake Chokes Bird
Hornbill starts to swallow snake

Bev Field, a 50-year-old house executive witnessed this intense moment during a visit and shared the story with “We came across a family of southern ground hornbills foraging. There were 4 adults and 1 juvenile. We watched them for a while and then noticed that the juvenile was feeding on a snake and seemed to be struggling.”

Dead Snake Chokes Bird

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“We realized that the bird had swallowed half the snake and couldn’t swallow the rest or regurgitate the snake. We watched for about 45 minutes as the bird tired from carrying the big snake around, trying to get it out of its throat. It was a very big snake for the youngster. The interesting part for us was that the adults kept foraging and didn’t show any distress for the struggling juvenile.”

Dead Snake Chokes Bird
Hornbill choking on snake

“They showed no interest in feeding on the large snake either. We would have thought that the mother would have stayed to help the juvenile. It would have been so easy for an adult to pull the snake out.”

Dead Snake Chokes Bird
Hornbill struggling to breathe

“They kept walking hundreds of meters away despite the juvenile’s calls for help.”

Dead Snake Chokes Bird
Hornbill trying one last time to regurgitate snake

“It was very hard to watch the bird struggle and we were heartbroken when we thought the bird was dying. Everything in us wanted to get out of the car and pull the snake out of the bird’s throat. Other than not being allowed out of your car in Kruger, we also knew that trying to help the bird could stress it more than it already was. It probably would have tried to fly away and exhaust itself further. A very difficult, helpless feeling.”

Dead Snake Chokes Bird

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“Suddenly the bird miraculously got up and managed to regurgitate the snake and then started the process all over again – tenderizing and pecking the snake to eat it all over again.”

Dead Snake Chokes Bird
Finally the Hornbill manages to get the snake out

“This was an extremely rare sighting – literally once in a lifetime and wonderful to have it right on the road. Everything in me wanted to help the bird, but this is nature and it needs to take its course. In the end, the ground hornbill survived without intervention.”

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