Crow – Hawk face-off

Crows seem to detest hawk and owls.  The other day they mobbed the Great Horned Owl in the backyard before I could get a good photo of him.  The owl was hooting in the middle of the day and it would have made a great picture, but the crows chased him off.

Yesterday, the local crow family went after a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks that had landed in the big oak trees in the backyard.  What a handsome pair they were as they screeched at each other (or the crows, perhaps).

The hawk took refuge in the center of the oak, so it was surrounded by branches and not highly visible.

The hawk took refuge in the center of the oak, so it was surrounded by branches and not highly visible.

At least four crows surrounded an individual hawk, flying at it from all angles, one after the other.

This was about as close as the crows would approach before flying right at the hawk and then taking off.  The hawk continually turned its head to look at each crow, perhaps trying to intimidate.

This was about as close as the crows would approach before flying right at the hawk and then taking off to perch in a different place. The hawk continually turned its head to look at each crow, perhaps trying to intimidate.

Eventually, the hawks had enough of this harassment and left the area, still making their distinctive “kee-raah” call.

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Such a handsome hawk, with its striped red breast feathers and striped tail.

Despite their long soaring wings, Red-shouldered Hawks are birds of the forest, and I suspect their long tail provides the maneuverability they need to fly in and out of trees.  They hunt much like a Red-tailed Hawk does, perching high and waiting for some prey animal to move before pouncing on them, but Red-shouldered Hawks station themselves more at the forest edge, and Red-tailed Hawks tend to hunt in more open, exposed areas.

Photo by Matthew Townsend from Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Matthew Townsend from Wikimedia Commons

We have both Great Horned Owls and Red-shouldered Hawk nesting in the backyard, judging by calls I’ve heard from these birds over past summers.  The hawks occasionally may actually join forces with the crows to chase Great Horned Owls out of hawk breeding territory.  Interestingly, both the hawks and the owls will steal each other’s young out of the nest and eat them.  That’s a different sort of population control.

7 thoughts on “Crow – Hawk face-off

  1. I had heard about the mobbing behaviour of birds to protect their young, which is fascinating but I never knew two species would cooperate against a common enemy. A sort of feathered political behaviour.

  2. The Great Horned Owls are larger than the hawks, so maybe that’s why the hawks teamed up with the crows to chase them off…helping both the hawks and the crows.

  3. Pingback: Dalen OW6 Gardeneer 16-Inch Molded Owl

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