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Hawks and crows


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#16 Belmo

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Posted March 19 2013 - 8:35 AM

WHY DON'T HAWKS FIGHT BACK?

by Whit Gibbons

March 20, 2011


Q: A pair of red-tailed hawks has nested near our house for years. Several times I have seen one or both of them harassed by crows. I watched a five-minute dogfight today with the hawk just trying to get away. It was very entertaining, but puzzling. Why do these large raptors let the crows that are less than half their size and without their weapons harass them?

Q: I have seen crows pester a couple of big hawks. Sometimes the hawks just sit on a tree branch and let the crows fly around and make a lot of noise. Sometimes they fly away, with the crows chasing them. Would the hawks act differently if they had a nest with babies in it?

A: Very good questions about a commonly observed phenomenon called mobbing, in which several smaller birds harass a larger predatory bird. Why would a red-tailed hawk, bald eagle or great horned owl let a bunch of smaller birds, like crows, pester it? And why would a smaller bird take the risk of attacking these large predators? The answer, as is usually the case when animal behavior and ecology are involved, is complex. Some explanations seem relatively straightforward whereas others are more speculative.

From the crows' perspective, mobbing behavior may have adaptive significance in terms of survival in that a large potential predator may be driven from an area where crows raise their young because the babies might become prey for some raptors. In a situation in which a predator such as a large hawk is simply in between meals, either sitting or flying, and has no special stake in a particular location, mobbing behavior by crows could be very effective. The hawk would presumably not find the annoyance worth the effort of staying around and would move on to another area to hunt. In other words, the crows don't want the predator in the area and the hawk itself doesn't really care whether it is there or somewhere else.

In search of an answer to the question of what a pair of these birds of prey would do when harassed by crows if they had a couple of babies in a nest, I asked an ornithologist. In fact, I asked 11 ornithologists. Some are top-flight amateur bird watchers and some are professional scientists who have studied hawks or eagles. The answers I got were consistent, and surprising.

All agreed that if a red-tailed hawk reached out and grabbed a crow with its talons, that would be the end of the crow. Or as one of the professionals put it, in scientific terms, "the crow would be toast." But although large raptors have the necessary weapons, the energy cost of pursuing or otherwise attempting to catch a crow is normally not worth it. Crows are agile creatures and would be very difficult to catch in flight. So a hawk typically ignores the crows or flies away.

The answers from the bird researchers about what hawks or eagles would do if eggs or babies were in the nest were especially interesting. Statements like the following were telling. "I have never seen crows approach when young were present, but birds of prey will fiercely protect their nests." One commented, "None of our staff has ever seen crows or raccoons be predators on an eagle nest with eggs or young in it." Another said, "I don't know for sure, but when there's a nest involved, the stakes are higher and the raptor would probably fight back. The crows know this and keep their distance." Or as another put it, "When baby hawks are in the nest, the area around it becomes a no-fly zone for crows."

Observations of how hawks respond when crows use their mobbing behavior tactics are frequent. But what a pair of hawks or eagles would do if crows tried their antics when eggs or babies are in the nest remains unanswered. Ironically, the fact that such attacks seldom or never occur, may be because crows already know the answer.


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#17 rocco

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Posted March 19 2013 - 8:39 AM

Just about everytime I see a hawk, there are crows harassing it.

They dive bomb it and yap at it, and just generally harass it.

Why do they do this?

Why doesn't the hawk kick it's ass. or eat it.

Last night, there was a hawk sitting in the tree minding his own biz, and these crows were relentless.Here's a crappy pic, but you get the idea.

Does anybody know why?



its the same reason you would chase a ghetto rat out of your neighborhood.

given the chance the hawk can and will kill crows, raid nests and compete for resources. the crows are pretty smart and know there is safety in numbers and what they can get away with too. blue jays (closely related to crows actually) do this too, and look around when you hear them screaming "JAY! JAY! Jay!" usually there is a hawk around causing the uproar.

as someone pointed out, some raptors are known to hunt in pairs. mated pairs of red-tailed hawks often hunt squirrels in pairs. one hawk will menace and distract the tree rat from one side and when the squirrel gets smart and goes around to the other side of the tree, he gets knocked the **** out!


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#18 Bass Ackwards

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:00 AM

They don't eat them because crow tastes like****. ;)


How do you know what**** tastes like? :)


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#19 MikeMc

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:04 AM

How do you know what**** tastes like? :)


Are you to tell me you never, ever used the term 'tasteslike****' in your life?? :squid: I call BS on BA, if the answer is yes. :p


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Eat my dust, lazy socialist check cashing ass hats. - A. Bourdain
Carpe Brewum!! - BJ


#20 Homerisadope

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:05 AM


Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeMc View Post


Ya see that little pencil button on the bottom left side of your post? You can use that to edit your post and fix mistakes.



Or we can do it for you.



 



But you don't want that, especially when you're talking about "loads." 



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FY, WE HAVE A SQUID!!!!

#21 Otter

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:18 AM

I started crow shooting from a blind for exact reason the OP stated. I hate crows. They're always in a pack and act real bad, when there's a bunch of em. They're load and annoying.


so, virg. you just kill things for no reason other than loud & annoying? maybe i find you annoying.


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confirmed problematic

#22 Cortez The Killie Killer

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:24 AM

so, virg. you just kill things for no reason other than loud & annoying? maybe i find you annoying.

:hi5::kiss:


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#23 Otter

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:32 AM

dont tell him yet cortez but its already official. lets watch


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#24 chumfish

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:45 AM


Shiny bauble collectors stick together.



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#25 inthered

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:50 AM


It's the pecking order!    



 



Blue jays on crows. Crows on hawks. I was surprised (a couple of years ago) when I first saw a hawk leave the tree he was in to go after one of the crows that was heckling him.



 



There was no out maneuvering going on.  Straight away and "right after" flight.  Reminded me of grammar school lunchtime, on the playground. 



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#26 gadwall8

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:55 AM

so, virg. you just kill things for no reason other than loud & annoying? maybe i find you annoying.


Easy there Alice,

1. The evil crows will pull corn seedlings out of the soil to eat the kernel. Smart critters, kill 4 or 5 out of the murder and they'll move elsewhere long enough for the crops to become established.

2.. Crow shooting is fun and challenging sport during the off season.


:v:


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"I came into this world naked, screaming at the top of my lungs, and covered in someone else's blood. I got no problem leaving it that way."

#27 jmlandru

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Posted March 19 2013 - 9:58 AM

So squirels get a pass. Thats ok with me. I don't let my cats out. Because of the birds. I love
my woodpeckers. I hate the squirrels.
Crows are on the move. Thx gaddy


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#28 Cortez The Killie Killer

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Posted March 19 2013 - 10:01 AM

Easy there Alice,

1. The evil crows will pull corn seedlings out of the soil to eat the kernel. Smart critters, kill 4 or 5 out of the murder and they'll move elsewhere long enough for the crops to become established.

2.. Crow shooting is fun and challenging sport during the off season.


:v:


Try a Scare Crow.

I'm with Alice... Virgil aint killin no crows to save this year's crops. He's killin for fun.


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#29 Bass Ackwards

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Posted March 19 2013 - 10:04 AM

Try a Scare Crow.

I'm with Alice... Virgil aint killin no crows to save this year's crops. He's killin for fun.


:rolleyes:


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#30 RiverRaider

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Posted March 19 2013 - 10:04 AM


Easy there Alice,

1. The evil crows will pull corn seedlings out of the soil to eat the kernel. Smart critters, kill 4 or 5 out of the murder and they'll move elsewhere long enough for the crops to become established.

2.. Crow shooting is fun and challenging sport during the off season.


:v:


Try a Scare Crow.

I'm with Alice... Virgil aint killin no crows to save this year's crops. He's killin for fun.


Blood Sport


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