Battle of the Birds: Hawk Tries to Kill Cuckoo

Well, this bird isn’t playing nice! A sparrowhawk was spotted trying to kill a Jacobin cuckoo in a standoff that seemed to last forever as the victim fought desperately for its life.

While it may seem unusual to see birds fighting like this, this is pretty normal behavior for sparrowhawks. Larger species—like this black sparrowhawk seen in South Africa—enjoy a diet made up mostly of mid-sized birds, such as pigeons, doves and even other raptors.

The hawks often scope out their target while perched in a tree and then make the kill in a sneak flying attack. But in some cases, the fight is more drawn out and the hawk will literally eat their prey alive as seen here.

In this footage, shot by Organ Sabiepark in Kruger National Park, the hawk begins plucking away feathers while effortlessly pinning the struggling cuckoo to the ground, proving just how strong these birds are. They can even carry prey as heavy as themselves to their plucking posts for leisurely dismembering and eating.

“When I watched the sighting play itself out, I felt sad about what was happening,” Organ told “The sparrowhawk was biting the jacobin cuckoo and trying to kill it, all while the cuckoo was fighting for its life and trying to escape.

At the end, after fighting extremely long and hard, the cuckoo managed to get away. That was in some way a great relief.”

Indeed, moments after the camera stopped rolling, the cuckoo managed to escape and fly to safety. This is a reminder of why you should never give up.