Sunday, May 29, 2011

Killer Crow

Preface: These shots are crappy and not up to BirdWordGirl standard; but they illustrate something not often seen, so it is worth sharing them, despite the damage they might wreak upon my PhotoEgo.

Yesterday morning at low tide along the Duwamish River. Lots of juvenile starlings around; this one got very unlucky. For two agonizing minutes, the crow plucked and pecked at the starling, who squealed and cried on its back, pedaling its legs in protest. Meanwhile all nearby starlings and robins went beserk with alarm calls.

The crow spent nearly as much energy defending its killing process from its voracious corvid colleagues as it did pecking at the starling.

Frankly, it was a relief when the body was finally lifeless and feathers began flying as the crow tucked in. After a few seconds, the crow flew off with the body, assailed by its colleagues.

(Yes, I did briefly consider stopping the killing but the hard facts intervened: starlings are a non-native species which are numerous and at times quite harmful to native species.  If it had been a Flicker, my favorite bird, I would have gone ballistic on that crow's ass.)


  1. It's always hard to know whether to intervene in something like that--& then, at a certain point, it's probably best to let things take their course. It's certainly worth documenting & discussing on a bird blog, because this is one of the many bird realities.

    I had an experience once with one of our cats--& this has a happy ending (well, not as much for the cat); I saw her on the lawn with a goldfinch in her mouth--I spoke the cat's name as assertively as I could--she turned to me & opened her mouth & the bird flew away. The cat looked so surprised & a bit miffed.

  2. For balance:

    Once, standing in my living room looking out the window at my Douglas fir, I saw a hawk steal a baby crow from a nest. I ran outside to attend to the ruckus, and when the hawk carried the baby to the top of a telephone pole so as to enjoy his "treat" with better footing, the family of crows from whom he'd stolen went crazy with diving and careening, all to no avail.

    (Not entirely sure if that's "balance", but at least it's another perspective!)

  3. Wow, that is scary. We've been training one of our dogs to chase the crows away from our back yard when they come to eat the suet. And after several weeks of this, when the dog runs out barking, the little birds literally come back instantly. They've learned the barking means crows gone. They will feed and bathe, all the while the barking is going on. He's not a bird dog by the way. He chases the crows, ignores all the other little ones. Today I watched a Chickadee take a bath 20 feet from our barking Crow-Chasing-Dog. They totally understand the dog isn't barking at them. But they treat crows as dangerous - when a crow shows up, everyone flees.