Posts Tagged ‘Mobbing’

The day before yesterday, I was walking along the edge of Lake Washington, which is very close to our new home in West Sacramento, CA.  It was a great morning of birding with several of the early fall migrating Wilson’s Warblers, an adult Red-shouldered Hawk, a Lesser Scaup feeding on the lake and about 300 Long-billed Dowitchers resting on one muddy portion of shore.

As I walked around a bend in the cattails and tules, I saw a female American Kestrel swooping and diving back and forth at the top of an oak tree.  She was also screaming like crazy.  Nearby, perched on a bare branch of a sapling was a male American Kestrel.  He was calling like crazy as well!  As I stood there, I also heard several Western Scrub Jays also making a loud ruckus in the tree.  I was certainly curious to see what was causing all this fuss.  I walked closer, and as I did so, a Red-tailed Hawk flew past.  As it neared the tree it dipped low and dropped its legs down to strafe the tree top!  As I got even closer, two Anna’s Hummingbirds joined in to start darting in and out of the tree top at whatever was there.  What could cause this much commotion and attract this much ferocious attention from so many very different species?  I got my answer a few moments later when a Great Horned Owl launched itself out of the tree top and flew towards a different group of tree some distance away.  After the owl left, most of the birds seemed to calm down, expect for the American Kestrels which both followed the owl to its new perch site and continued to berate it there.

Not only was the commotion quite impressive, it was interesting how all these different species, with their very diverse natural histories, would all feel threatened by one owl!

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