Featherweight bout

By on March 9, 2016

ER20160309_starling

Ah, the next frame…

Actually, this captured “lunch” had something to “crow” about. The starling continued to call for help from its mates. European Starlings are an aggressive invasive species and typically use the flock approach to chase smaller birds away from feeders (Playground bullies for sure!).

In this case, the starling paid a price for coming in alone to take over a suet feeder. Once on its back, however, this dazed bully was staring death in the eyes and started squawking for help.

The hawk had just finished plucking two feathers from the breast of the starling (ouch!) when three crows responded to the injured bird (Probably to kill it themselves, since crows are opportunists like eagles.).

Given that hawks and crows have an adversarial relationship, the hawk tried to make a quick getaway with the starling in tow. In the aerial battle that ensued, the hawk had to drop the bird to use its talons and speed to elude the crows.

Once released, the injured starling glided into a nearby forsythia bush for safety. The hawk did return to a high wire after surviving the crow onslaught. Fortunately for the starling, the bush was impenetrable. This lucky bully of smaller birds escaped with its life, and truly had something to crow about.

Field note: Even among the birding public, starlings have few friends.

– Photo and story by Mike Shull

About Patrick Burns

Social media editor and staff writer for Ephrata Review and Lititz Record Express.

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