Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cooper's and crows playing "tag"

There's a large grassy lawn dotted with a few trees in Milwaukee's Veteran's Park.

Yesterday afternoon there were 4-5 crows hanging out on the lawn, when suddenly a large immature Cooper's Hawk flew out of some trees by the lagoon. It picked out a crow, swooped down on it, tapped it with its feet, and made this loud guttural call. The Cooper's then flew up into a nearby tree.

Not to anthropomorphize too much, but the crow looked genuinely embarrassed that it had been taken by surprise. Its feathers were all ruffled and it was making low muttering sounds.

The other crows acted as if nothing had happened, which surprised me. I expected them to get all agitated and go after the Cooper's. After about a minute, one of the other crows flew up into the tree where the Cooper's was. It was quiet for about 30 seconds. Then the crow burst out of the tree with the Cooper's in close pursuit. Some fancy aerobatics ensued for about 20 seconds. Most of the time the Cooper's was doing the chasing, but once the crow manuvered so that it was behind the hawk.

The Cooper's then flew back up into a tree. Another crow slowly flew past the hawk, as if challenging it to another "game". The Cooper's took the bait and there was another chase. The scenario repeated itself several times.

One by one the crows drifted away, seeming to grow tired of the sport. The Cooper's and the last crow started one final chase and wound up on the ground, rolling around for a couple of seconds. Then the crow left, leaving the hawk calmly sitting by itself up in a tree.

The thing that surprised me the most about this encounter was that the Cooper's and the crows seemed very calm when they weren't interacting. And when one crow was playing "tag", the others acted as if nothing unusual was going on.

It was a fun encounter.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, interesting encounter! I often think crows have mischief on their minds but Cooper's Hawks always look so serious. I would have loved to have seen this. Thanks for sharing!