[Tweeters] Tag you are it! With a question.

johntubbs at comcast.net johntubbs at comcast.net
Fri Oct 3 11:33:50 PDT 2008

Hi Melissa and Everyone,

There is no doubt a lot of serious defensive behavior going on here, as was noted earlier, since accipiters are predators - though I think taking an adult crow might be tough for a Sharpie or Cooper's. Crows are on the large size and pretty smart, so I don't believe the adults are major prey species (someone out there may know differently and educate us).

However, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a 'play' aspect to it as well. Corvids are known to engage in behaviors that appear to have no other function other then entertaining themselves. I saw an amazing video once - can't remember the source and don't have a link - that was taken of ravens on the English west coast. The winds blow off the North Atlantic, hit the limestone cliffs and create tremendous updrafts. The videographer saw several ravens using the stiff updraft for 'play' and filmed it. The birds would fly out away from the cliffs and then fly in toward the areas with a strong updraft. They would hit the updraft and literally be blown head over heels and sent tumbling around in the air, out of control. They would then eventually recover to normal flight. If this had happened only once per bird, one could conclude they were taken by surprise and it was an accident. Except these ravens continued to circle away from and then directly back into the updraft !
to be o
nce again blasted out of control, over and over, apparently entertaining themselves in the process. It was pretty amazing to watch.

John Tubbs
Snoqualmie, WA
johntubbs at comcast.net

-------------- Original message --------------
From: "Melissa McKenzie" <bmsh.mckenzie at gte.net>

> While walking my kids home from school yesterday afternoon I noticed from a

> distance what looked to be a crow bombarding something in the top of a tree.

> As we got closer it became apparent that the something was a sharp shinned

> hawk. What I realized was happening was not just the crow going after the

> hawk but what appeared to be a game. The hawk would fly from a tree toward

> the crow who would take off after the hawk, after one mid air confrontation

> they would both go to separate trees. Next it was the crows turn to leave

> his tree to be chased by the hawk.


> We stopped to watch and this activity went on for close to five minutes. I

> have seen this type of behavior before a few years ago with a crow and a red

> tail hawk except that time both birds were in one tree and one would take

> off toward another tree and be chased by the second. They also 'took turns'

> chasing and being chased.


> I was wondering if this was a common behavior and what might be behind the

> actions. Is it training, and if so for which bird the crow or the hawk? Or

> was it just a game?


> Thank you for any thoughts.


> Melissa McKenzie


> Melissa McKenzie

> bmsh.mckenzie at gte.net

> Kenmore By The Lake



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> Tweeters at u.washington.edu

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