A Cooper’s Hawk Escorted By Red-wing Blackbirds
Recently we were our with Birding Buddy Mark at West Branch FP looking for a Merlin (nope) and a Le Conte’s Sparrow (nope) but we did see some cool sights. There was a large (estimated to be at least 300) flock of Red-wing Blackbirds moving around from the ground up into the trees. Some of the smaller groups would mass and move as one (like a murmuration) but when the entire flock took to the air it was just a mob of birds!
Although there were some males in the flock, most were female like the one below:
They gathered in the trees in the distance after feeding on the ground, making it look like a huge Christmas Tree with black lights!
While we were observing a variety of sparrows a couple of Cooper’s Hawks flew in from the north. They separated as they approached us and I followed one as it flew over toward the Red-wing Blackbirds. The whole flock took to the sky surrounding the Coopers Hawk – we didn’t see any of them attack the hawk but it was like they were escorting it through the area. Here’s a shot of the hawk and the mass of Red-winged Blackbirds:
Eventually the hawk settled down to roost in a tree, preening and resting. None of the blackbirds approached – they pretty much stayed away. It was a fascinating little drama that played out right before us in the sky.
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