Pecking order
Monday May 28th 2012, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Our hero in this story is a study in grays who has claimed a particular spot on a particular branch where he likes to perch in the afternoons; he doesn’t come to the patio but rather occasionally dives down to stab an insect in the yard.

And then back up to that spot to spend a great deal of time, tail gently seesawing, looking me in the eye if I take the time to notice.

Glancing in a mirror this afternoon as I went by, a raven reflected via the skylight caught my eye.

Our neighbor has an Australian tree called a Silk Oak, oak being generic for tree there.  The raven (2.6 lbs, 53″ wingspan) was lazily flopping through the branches and then hefted itself up to where the orange blossoms were. Clearly it had found food: its head disappeared into the orange again and again while it tried to steady itself against the flimsiness of the wildly swaying limb.

There was a mockingbird, 1.7 oz, 14″, at the top of our Chinese elm. Studying that raven. It flew to the other tree above and behind while I thought, careful, little one.

Then suddenly it zoomed straight down at the raven, hoping to startle it away.

Who ignored it.

Back up, dove again, harder, again carefully from behind, veering off at the last. This time the hassled raven tried to hop flap a little out of its way.

Dive! And now it went all out and it clearly connected–I wondered: do little birds grab a clawful of feathers when they’re vehemently defending their territory or perhaps nest?

I don’t know, but enough already, now the raven was clearly trying to escape. It disappeared. The mockingbird did a little “And STAY out!” dance in the air.

7 Comments so far
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Hi Alison,
I’m from downunder and have a query. “Oak being generic for tree down there.” Do I understand you to mean that we use the word oak for tree generally? If that’s what you mean, then no. Tree is tree. Silky oak is definitely a grevillea and I don’t know why it has attracted the word “oak.” Possibly a similarity in barks. We have oaks. Deciduous. They are not indigenous to here. However a tree is a tree.

Comment by Jan 05.29.12 @ 1:36 am

Love it! Gretchen has versed us well in the art of being a pest; cute to see it at play in the bird world too.

Comment by Channon 05.29.12 @ 6:36 am

I’ve been watching the newly arrived jays and the magpies “duking it out” over the yard behind us — feathers flying!

Comment by Bev 05.29.12 @ 7:50 am

Oh, that’s hilarious! The little guy wins again!

Gee, we learn something new every day. A tree is a tree!

Comment by Don Meyer 05.29.12 @ 8:55 am

Thank you, Jan; I should have double-checked on the (American, I believe) site I read that made that assertion.

Comment by AlisonH 05.29.12 @ 9:33 am

Thanks Alison for your explanation of where your stament came from.

Your story reminded me of a similar story which I saw.

We used to own a bush property of over 40 acres with many very tall eucalypts on it. At lunch one day, we were eating outside as we normally did in good weather when we heard a commotion. A large goanna was well up a tree, apparently after baby birds. There were half a dozen small finches swearing at the goanna and flying around it. They are tiny, could fit a couple in a handful, a bit of David and Goliath stuff. Goanna wa over 2 metres long.Then another couple of birds took over the attack. Bigger, but still small in proportion to goanna. They dive bombed the goanna repeatedly and we could hear the thud as they hit it with their beaks. The goanna eventually did an awkward turn and began to descend. The birds kept up the attack to make sure and the goanna went down. About 20′ from ground both hit the goanna simultaneously and it fell the last distance to the ground. From there, it was chased as it scuttled into the bush.

Comment by Jan 05.29.12 @ 1:45 pm

Never doubt that a single bird can change the world…?

Comment by twinsetellen 05.29.12 @ 5:40 pm

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