An ignominious retreat

Small birds are amazingly courageous.

I’ve often seen a crowd of small and not normally fierce garden birds seeing off a larger potential predator. Today, though, I had to applaud. A pair of Peewees (Grallina cyanoleuca) were relentless in seeing off a large juvenile Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus), who’d wafted down and had taken up a watching post on the neighbour’s fence. He sat there impassively for a while as they swooped closer and closer, yelling noisily all the while, until finally he leapt into the air, clapped his wings hard a few times, and disappeared into the sky to take his hunting exploits elsewhere.

Sorry about the poor focus – I ran in for my camera and fired off a couple of shots but by the time I’d got the thing properly focused he was already away. Brown Goshawks prey on small birds, but will take larger ones if the opportunity arises. They have large, strong yellow legs and talons, a raptor’s tearing beak and mad, staring yellow eyes under heavy eyebrows. You can tell this one is a juvenile because of the heavier brown splashes on the breast feathers. Adults have finer barring on the feathers there. I’m not at all sure I’d want to mess with one myself, so it’s particularly impressive that the Peewees got rid of him.

Routed. And by a pair of noisy clowns!

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20 thoughts on “An ignominious retreat

  1. We have small hawks here, called Cooper’s hawks. They will eat the little birds and other small animals, too. I even watched one day while one swooped in and picked up a squirrel, nearly its own weight, and carried it away. The little birds respond to the threat by disappearing or staying quite still and quiet. Usually that works, but apparently the hawks do find enough to eat to stay here. It is okay. Everybody’s gotta eat.

    • katechiconi says:

      I think if the Goshawk had been an adult, he wouldn’t have been seen off quite so easily. Let’s just say Peewees are not known for their caution and cunning…

  2. nanacathy2 says:

    Hurrah for noisy clowns.

  3. knitnkwilt says:

    I hear a political metaphor and message here.

  4. I love a good tale of plucky courage. Gives hope to those of us who feel small in the face of larger problems. Here’s a tale from our yard.

    A Great Blue Heron had stepped out of our pond on its long legs and stood in the grass with a fish in its beak, about to eat. These are huge birds, at least compared to others in our area of the US. Wingspan of 167–201 cm (66–79 in), height of 115–138 cm (45–54 in). Before it could feast, from nowhere our 15-year-old arthritic cat appeared, zipping at nearly warp speed at the bird with the audacious hope of a tiger. The heron spread its large wings and lifted off, leaving her not even a morsel of fish. From the window, I applauded her courage and belief in her undimmed prospects.

    • katechiconi says:

      I love the idea of a warp-speed puss, fur fully fluffed and the light of battle in her eye! It’s like wasps. They’re a whole heap smaller than us, but if one makes a beeline for us, we move!

  5. dayphoto says:

    What a good tale of amazing courage! It’s something we should all remember and use when threaten…although, the wimp in me usually wants to run.

  6. On behalf of those of us who are (cough cough) on the shorter/smaller side, I applaud the plucky Peewees! 😁

  7. magpiesue says:

    Hurray for the little guys!

  8. tialys says:

    We see hawks quite a lot here and they are sometimes surrounded by smaller birds in ‘mob mentality’ mode seeing it off. I’m always very impressed but I suppose everybody has to eat.

  9. rutigt says:

    Hurrah for the Peewees!!!!!!

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