Who Is Pinging Off this Red Tailed Hawk?

The more time I spend in Red-tailed Hawk territory, the more I realize they may be a “top predator” but they still get no respect. Every time I’ve seen one in the past month, it has been being harassed by other birds. In fact, that’s the easiest way for me to find them: listen for the angry calls of small birds.

Can a Red-tailed Hawk Ever Just Perch in Peace?

Photo of Red Tailed Hawk Pine Perched On NaturalCrooksDotCom

So here is the hawk sitting, looking rather dangerous and brooding, in a tree.

Photo of Red Tailed Hawk and Blue Gray Gnatcatcher Perched on NaturalCrooksDotCom

But wait, above it is a very small bird.

Photo of Red Tailed Hawk Gnatcatcher Bomb on NaturalCrooksDotCom

And bam, the small bird is dive-bombing the hawk.

Photo of Red Tailed Hawk Blurred Gnatcatcher On NaturalCrooksDotCom

Can you see the blurred warrior just inches away from that predatory beak?

Photo of Red Tailed Hawk Retreating on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Eventually after a few passes, the hawk gives up and wings away.

What Is that Small Warrior Bird?

A close up look at the dive bomber revealed it is a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. According to the AllAboutBirds website, it weighs about 6 g.(0.2 oz.)

The average Red-tailed hawk weighs 690-1456 g. (24 – 51 oz.)

Photo of Blue Grey Gnatcatcher 2014 On NaturalCrooksDotCom
This Blue-gray gnatcatcher is a relative of the Victor, taken a year previously in another park.

So if that was the smallest Red-tailed Hawk out there, it would take 115 Gnatcatchers to equal it in weight. That is one brave little bird! But given how easily one measly Blackfly can drive me away, I’m not surprised the Gnatcatcher was successful. The Hawk and I just don’t like to be bugged.

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Have you watched a hawk, crow or cowbird being driven away by a much smaller bird or birds? Please share your sighting with a comment.



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