[Tweeters] unusual? harrier behavior

Paul Hicks phicks at accessgrace.org
Tue Mar 28 20:28:38 PST 2006

Monday on Vantine Rd. near Tenino I observed a female harrier doing aerial 
acrobatics I've never seen before. Twice in succession it dived while 
twisting/rotating, then regained its elevation in kind of a loopty-loop, and 
was even flying upside down. My view of what was happening at the bottom of 
the dive toward the treetops was largely obstructed, as this occurred about 
40 yards from me looking upward from the base of a hillside/ridge with 
~10-year-old planted fir trees. The bird was also calling/crying with 
several detached distress-sounding notes, which I don't recall hearing 
before either. I'm wondering whether it was stooping on prey in the thick 
stand (I've seen harriers work this wooded ridge twice before, but it's 
unusual), chasing off a predator, or engaging in a mating display. Shortly a 
male harrier appeared flying off over the short treetops (I could not see 
from where, other than it was very nearby), and the two flew off together in 
normal flight.
I had been tipped off that something was up. A half-mile or so previous 
about 10 jays got all worked up and were headed somewhere toward this 
neighborhood to investigate. At my next pulloff (this location) I saw a few 
feathers floating in the air. And a number of other songbirds were very 
agitated, especially a lone Hairy Woodpecker at nearly ground level giving 
distress calls. My first thought was that a pygmy owl, a regular here, took 
out the Hairy's mate. (I ended up seeing in the vicinity 3 pair each of 
Downys and sapsuckers in the vicinity, plus numerous flickers--all were very 
active). Any thoughts on the harrier's behavior?
Also had my first singing Yellow-rump Monday.
Good birding!
Paul Hicks
Tenino, s Thurston Co
phicks AT accessgrace.org

More information about the Tweeters mailing list