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Flash mobl hits the forest

  • Friday, January 10, 2014

Nature’s creatures are amazing to listen to as well as visually observe.

A few days ago I caught a quick glimpse of a mid-sized bird rapidly flying through some almost leaf bare deciduous trees.

The bird made a quick darting motion to one side and then I heard the sounds of another bird in distress.

Squeaks and squawks emanated from the tree branches and then, for a short moment, all remained silent.

Then it all broke loose.

Within a matter of 15 seconds or so, blue jays, chickadees, cardinals, titmice, Carolina wrens and kinglets chimed in to the alarm chorus.

All sorts of chirps, calls, squawks, whistles echoed in the hardwoods.

This went on for about two or three minutes and then the woods fell dead silent again.

What happened?

A coopers or sharp-shinned hawk, known bird eaters, had swooped in and captured an unsuspecting songbird.

The victim’s avian cousins, dead silent before the raptor’s attack, were calling out in mob fashion to announce the presence of the hawk.

“Mobbing” the practice of birds announcing the presence of a known predator such as a raptor, cat, snake, human or other potential threat is an interesting behavior.

You wouldn’t know all the birds were even there if it wasn’t for this loud, communal, aggressive behavior.

Interestingly enough, a few days later I heard chickadees, titmice and wrens scolding something in the same general area as where the hawk captured the songbird.

I stopped what I was doing and slowly walked over to the mobbing birds.

It was a warm day for winter time, an uncharacteristic 80 degree day. After a minute or two of searching I noticed an arboreal rat snake stretched out on a limb in the almost barren trees.

I would have never known the snake was there if it wasn’t for the chattering birds.

So, your eyes aren’t the only way to locate birds.

Keeping your ears open and tuned-in often provides great rewards when it comes to experiencing nature’s wonderful surprises!

Enjoy your nature trails.

For questions or comments, e-mail jwalls443@gmail.com

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