Ter­mite Toss­ing

Willem Kruger, South Africa

NPhoto - - Contributors -

– it can be dif­fi­cult for a pho­tog­ra­pher to get a clear shot among the scrub.

The bird feeds this way be­cause its tongue isn’t long enough to pick up in­sects as, say, a wood­pecker might. And though its huge bill re­stricts its field of vi­sion, it can still see the bill’s tip and so can pick up in­sects with pre­ci­sion.

What Willem was after, though, was the horn­bill’s pre­ci­sion toss, which he even­tu­ally caught, after a 40-minute wait. Us­ing the tip of its mas­sive beak like for­ceps, this horn­bill would flick ter­mite after ter­mite into the air and then swal­low them. For­ag­ing be­side a track in South Africa’s Kgala­gadi Trans­fron­tier Park, the southern yel­low-billed horn­bill was so deeply ab­sorbed in ter­mite snack­ing that it grad­u­ally worked its way to within six me­tres (19 feet) of where Willem sat watch­ing from his ve­hi­cle.

Though wide­spread, this Southern African horn­bill can be shy, and as it feeds on the ground – mainly on ter­mites, bee­tles, grasshop­pers and cater­pil­lars

Nikon D3S, Nikon 600mm f/4 lens, 1/5000 sec, f/4, ISO800

© Willem Kruger / Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year

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