Fight not flight – Fierce bird defends nest from rhinos
In a real fight-or-flight situation this bird chose to stay grounded.
As a mother thickknee nested on the ground she spotted a giant rhino and her calf coming straight at her.
Instead of taking to the skies, the brave bird spread her wings and stood up to the giants to ward them off.
The move worked and the fierce thickknee succeeded in diverting the mother rhino and her cub away from her nest.
The confrontation, which lasted for several minutes, was captured by photographer Ayesha Cantor in Kragga Kamma Game Park, South Africa.
The 50-year-old, who owns and runs the park, said: “I had been watching and photographer the rhino cow and her eight-week-old calf enjoying a good wallow in the mud late one afternoon.
“When they started moving off I saw something they had not seen yet – a thickknee birdsitting on her nest on the ground, directly in their path.
“At first the bird sat tight but when she realised they were bearing down on her she quickly leapt up and, to my surprise, walked right up to the rhino.
“It was an unbelievably brace move and incredible to watch.
“The rhino cow was unfazed, but the bird was adamant and determined to ward the rhinooff.
“Standing as tall as she could with wings spread as wide as they could go she was shrieking at the top of her lungs.
“The rhino cow slightly adjusted her direction and calmly grazed on, but the young calf was intrigued by the feisty feathered creature.
“She bounced forward full of bravado, as rhino calves do, until the thickknee turned herself towards her and she beat a hasty retreat.
“She repeated this behaviour a few more times until she eventually had to run to catch up with her mum. ”
Ayesha felt blessed to witness the bird standing up to the giant creatures.
Having successfully fought off the perceived threat, the thickknee remained on high alert.
Ayesha said: “At first I was afraid for the bird. What chance would she have against two giants and their massive feet and solid bulk?
“But when I saw how they reacted to her widespread wings and warning shrieks I could relax a bit and enjoy this unusual David and Goliath moment.
“Once the bird realised that she had successfully averted disaster, she gave herself a congratulatory feather rustle but continued to patrol the area around her well camouflaged nest for a while.”