Cooperation Between Enemies Against Public Enemy #1



Hawks and crows have a well known antagonistic relationship. Crows will pack together to bait – literally – a hawk to the point of response.  Hawks prey on young crows – and all crows have as a defense against hawks… is intelligence.

I wrote about the mating of our Coopers Hawks yesterday, and this morning Isaboe and mate were absolutely frantic giving their “too close to nest/danger” call (go to Cornell’s All About Birds and you can hear their distinctive calls).  At the same time, the crows were starting to behave raucously.  I had my coffee and observed what was taking place.  Who were the aggressors, what was their behavior, blah blah.   It became apparent that something was uniting the efforts of the hawks and crows into bombarding the tall palm (about 60 ft. in air) and I quickly retrieved my binoculars (I have three pair – upstairs, back and front of house).

Sure enough, there on the palm was the Great Horned Owl that predates on young hawks, crows, skunks… and anything else it fancies.  In the bird world… I think Owls are the Edward G. Robinson of the bird world… Public Enemy #1.  Now you figure I’m about 300 feet from the palm, that is about 55′ tall… and this kid is BIG.  Usually during the day he/she retreats to the denser foliage of some local pine and waits out the day.  This morning, he/she was where the Barn Owls used to have a nest (and raised a couple of broods).  Haven’t heard them lately so I hope nothing bad happened and they just sought nicer digs.  I have seen them with flashlight in hand at night, but I heard them more than I ever saw them (they would fly past the window upstairs at night.  I think their call very eerie (

I have witnessed this behavior many times before when a common enemy comes into their community.  Red Shoulders and Red Tails are received with equal hostility.

In closing, the efforts were successful, and when the owl decided enough is enough… it took off (huge wing span) – with hawks and crows en mass on tail – harassing it loudly and zipping about to intimidate (sort of).

Then all became quiet…. and once again peace came to the land.

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