By Mark McConville
WITNESS the amusing and bizarre moment a small but plucky bird hitched of a ride on the back a hapless five-foot-wingspan EAGLE.
Stunning once-in-a-lifetime pictures show the eagle resting on a branch as it tries to eat a snake it had caught with the smaller black drongo bird with a wingspan of 110-inches in hot pursuit.
As the Crested Serpent Eagle takes flight the black drongo sets off in pursuit, even landing on the eagle’s back and appearing to peck it on the back of the head.
The remarkable encounter was captured in Taipei, Taiwan by wildlife photographer Liu Chia-Pin.
“When an eagle caught a snake and was about to eat it, he did not expect to enter the sphere of influence of the small bird,” he said.
“The small bird was brooding and so attacked and drove the invaders, constantly attacking in the trees or in the air.
“He even stood on the back of this mammoth eagle as it was flying away.”
The black drongo is a small Asian passerine bird of the drongo family Dicruridae. It is a common resident breeder in much of tropical southern Asia from southwest Iran through India and Sri Lanka east to southern China and Indonesia. It is a wholly black bird with a distinctive forked tail and measures 28 cm (11 in) in length.
The species is known for its aggressive behaviour towards much larger birds, such as crows, never hesitating to dive-bomb any bird of prey that invades its territory. This behaviour earns it the informal name of “king crow”.
One such bird of prey is the crested serpent eagle it attacks in this incident, which is a medium-sized bird of prey that is found in forested habitats across tropical Asia.
They call often with a loud, piercing and familiar three or two-note call. They often feed on snakes, giving them their name and are placed along with the Circaetus snake-eagles in the subfamily Circaetinae.