Pacific Baza

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A lone pacific baza (Aviceda subcristata), also called the crested hawk or cuckoo-falcon, resting high in the canopy of the eucalypt forest. Raptors are extremely abundant in the Top End, especially whistling kites (Haliastur sphenurus), however I’ve only had a close encounter with one pacific baza in the past few weeks. Pacific bazas have keen eyesight and prefer large insects as prey, particularly stick insects and mantids, but they will also prey on frogs, small reptiles, and occasionally eat fruit. This raptor is an aerodynamic acrobat. After spotting prey it will assume a V-shaped posture and dive at high speeds to intercept prey. They are even known to crash into the canopy, dislodging prey and clumsily snatch up their reward. Apparently their courtship displays are even more spectacular. If only I was as good at spotting cryptic insects as the pacific baza. When the heavy rains begin I hope to find the Goliath stick insect (Eurycnema goliath), hopefully not just in a beak. Its large golden yellow, subtle crest, and behavior have quickly made this species my favorite Australian raptor. I would love to observe its hunting behavior so next time I see one I will stay a bit longer.

Photographed in situ [1] before fleeing


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