Eight days ago I posted three photos, pretty much picked at random, of a “small songbird” attacking an adult Red-tailed Hawk in flight in the west desert. Their aerial dogfight lasted for nearly eight minutes as both birds repeatedly circled overhead so you can imagine how many photos I took. Hundreds. I don’t think those three original photos told the story very well so today I’m going to try again, using nine photos (including one of the original three) and a little more detailed narrative.

The small songbird, which I originally couldn’t positively ID, turned out to be a really pissed off female Brewer’s Blackbird (thanks to Dan Gleason and others for the ID help). All photos are presented in the order they were taken.


It all began when this male (I believe, based on size) adult Red-tailed Hawk took off from a utility pole in front of me. The female Brewer’s took up the chase almost immediately and the hawk wasn’t happy about being pursued. He was screaming intermittently for the entire eight minutes of the attack.



I was shooting out my pickup window which meant that I could only take photos when they were on the west side of the road, so I heard a lot of screaming when I couldn’t actually see what was going on. The blackbird repeatedly swooped in and “tagged”, or attempted to tag, the hawk.



I only captured her making contact one time. This is one of the three photos I posted eight days ago.



After each attack she would make her getaway quickly, usually by rising swiftly upward. She seemed to instinctively know that the much larger hawk couldn’t match that maneuver.



They didn’t always circle counterclockwise. The escape maneuvers made by the hawk sometimes resulted in clockwise circling.



Sometimes they dropped low enough to get nearby mountains in the background, which made getting sharp focus on them more difficult for me. Here she’s assumed a bullet shape for speed just prior to…



another close-quarters attack. If she didn’t actually strike the hawk, she came very close.



Once again she used her superior maneuverability to her advantage. A split second after making contact, or nearly doing so, she’d risen out of the hawk’s range before he could even react. All he could do was endure her attacks and hope she’d eventually give up.



In this last shot the blackbird is out of frame to the right but his continued screaming indicates that she was still in pursuit.

When the blackbird finally gave up, the hawk landed on a utility pole down the line. And I drove on down the road to look for other birds. I’m sure the entire episode was a lot more fun for me than it was for the poor red-tail.




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Journalist specialized in online marketing as Social Media Manager. I help professionals and companies to become more Internet and online reputation, which allows to give life to the Social Media Strategies defined for the Company, and thus immortalize brands, products and services. I have participated as an exhibitor in various forums nationally and internationally, I am the author of several articles in digital magazines and Blogs.


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