Birds, like other wildlife, exhibit behavior of self-preservation and will risk their own safety to protect their young and preserve the territory they inhabit. Mobbing is a commonly observed behavior where a smaller bird attempts to drive away a larger bird, especially a bird of prey or raptors like eagles, hawks, and owls.
Typically one or more of the smaller birds will chase, nibble, peck, dive bomb, or engage in aerial entanglement to warn and drive off the predator. This harassment is amazingly well tolerated by the hassled bird. It usually remains at its perch and will duck or evade the attacker. More often than not, it will eventually fly away instead of confrontation by retaliation. Such entanglement is uncommon and serious injury even rarer.
The attackers include Red-winged Blackbirds and American Crows; the hassled birds are Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, and Swainson’s Hawks. But smaller raptors will harass larger raptors as well. Here are some photos capturing this mobbing behavior.
Bird Walks: Dec. 3 and Jan. 7. Two options: 8–10:30am or 8:30–10:30am (choose a 2-hour or a 2.5-hour walk.) Both walks are free but you must RSVP at www.blufflake.org/birdwatching. All are welcome. Bring your own binoculars, or borrow a pair from your guide. 11255 MLK Blvd. Search FrontPorchNE.com for “Bird Sightings” to see all the past bird stories and photos from George Ho.