Crows mob birds that come too close to their nests.
So what is mobbing? Mobbing is exactly what it sounds like. It is when a group of birds crowd around an intruding bird, or animal, and attack it in order to thwart the threat.
Crows Mobbing Hawks
In these photos an American Crow is doing just that — mobbing a predator. The predator in this scenario is the Red-shouldered Hawk. It’s a dramatic display.
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Crows patrol their territory and when a predator is in the area, they mob it. Predators, like Red-shouldered Hawks, are known to take nestlings from Crows’ nests.
It isn’t just Red-shouldered Hawks that are predators, Red-tailed Hawks also pose a threat. In an area where Crows have a large territory to defend (such as rural areas), this can occur several times a day.
In the case of the birds photographed above, the mobbing behavior occurred around the same time each day and daily for over a month!
Crows Being Mobbed
This Crow was hanging out around a footbridge at a manmade lake. It didn’t take long to realize why the Crow was there.
It was checking out the nests that the Barn Swallows had built underneath the bridge.
The Crow was unsuccessful in its pursuit of a Barn Swallow lunch. Why? Well, check out the behavior of the smaller birds. The Barn Swallows grouped together and harassed (or mobbed) the Crow into fleeing.
Why Birds Mob
These images show exactly why birds mob. Unfortunately, in this example, it was too late for the Eastern Kingbird nestling.
The Crow was able to pluck this nestling from its nest. This happened three more times over the course of a few days. When I finally found the nest, the Eastern Kingbirds were actively defending it from a Crow perched in a nearby branch.
It wasn’t a good year for the Kingbirds…
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