Thursday, September 06, 2007


THE BULLY CHAIN


Way up there, a passing crow with nothing better to do in the sky starts harassing a gliding hawk, the crow staying near the serene one and making sudden but not really genuine lunges at the much larger bird, who nevertheless must react, as the crow knows, by bunching its wings and twisting to raise its talons toward the floppy one, who by then is already at a safe distance, preparing to move in again when the hawk resumes its elegant flight.

On the face of it, you'd think it might be flight jealousy, what else could pertain way up there where winged bodies do business, the aerodynamically sophisticated hawk being crudely bullied by the ungainly crow, who flops across the sky like a feathered saddlebag. But sparrows and other little birds to the same thing to crows, so it's kind of a reverse bully chain going on-- seems if you can do it, you just do it. A back-atya for predation, too...

The hawk does alright anyway - as always - manages to keep an eye on his territory below well enough, but soon another crow who also has nothing better to do in the sky spots the airy argument and gallumphs over to join the action. The two crows gang up to give the taloned one a much harder time, coming from up-down and left-right, the hawk soon having to move away from these irritants in long glides, dragging the crows with him into the distance.

Into the spatial vacuum immediately glides another hawk with no intention of helping out his harried fellow, simply takes over the abandoned hunting ground; another big difference between crows and hawks. The guffawing crows, unlike the solitary contemplative hawk, seem to be having a good time at the bully business; their teasing movements have a clownish boisterousness to them, though the action is silent, no circus band is playing. Hawks, though, are the true masters of the sky; the crows just use it to get from place to place, with a now and then a spot of irritation along the way.

2 comments:

Maya's Granny said...

If it were earlier in the year or there were more crows, I'd think the hawk had strayed too close to a crow's nest. I once saw way over 100 crows mob an eagle, but there was no way anyone could have thought it was anything but serious. The eagle had to hunker down in a tree until the crows allowed her to leave.

Bob Brady said...

They're probably just keeping in practice.