When a Bird Challenges Your Car, You…

Welcome to another segment of “Tuesdays in Tshwane,” bits and pieces of our life living on the outskirts of South Africa’s capitol City, Pretoria (nka Tshwane.)

These segments aren’t intentionally all about birds, but they certainly are abundant and varied here, so they do play a large part of our frequent encounters.

We had an odd run-in last year with a seemingly kamikaze bird. It was already dark when we were returning home from a dinner out one evening. We were almost to our house when suddenly a bird appeared, illuminated by our car’s headlights. With outstretched wings, it charged forward at us, tilting its wings back and forth as it advanced.

travel Africa birds
That is a very defensive bird!

We had never seen such a crazy stunt, and immediately stopped the car so I could get out and chase it out of the way. We didn’t want to run it over, after all.

But it wouldn’t run away from me, instead charging me. It wasn’t a threat to a grown human, by any means, but it wasn’t a tiny bird either. Looking it up afterward, I believe the bird is called a “Spotted Thick-Knee,” (aka “dikkop.”)

I suspected, then confirmed, the source of its agitation. It had apparently been leading a little one across the road, and was defending it against all odds.

travel Africa
baby thick-knee?

Unsuccessful at shooing the parent away from the road, we backed off until it finished leading the baby bird across.

Any of you South Africans want to confirm if this was indeed a thick-knee, or, if not, what is this large, brave (or crazy) bird wandering the streets at night?

Love, MarLa


More “Tuesdays in Tshwane” posts:

Pardon Me, but Your Balls are the Wrong Color!

Things Unknown but Longed for Still

Squabs and the Strange Poets Who Write About Them

3 thoughts on “When a Bird Challenges Your Car, You…

  1. Your identification is absolutely spot-on Marla. You might also have heard their ghostly wailing call in the dark of night; they are nocturnal birds and in daylight hours expertly camouflaged in their hide-outs. Their courage at defending their chicks and nests against much bigger threats is inspiring, don’t you think?

  2. I wonder, is it some type of swimming or wading bird? It seems like here in PA anyway, the water birds get aggressive like that, whereas most other birds go into the “wounded wing” approach!

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