Recently I was sitting in my backyard, and I saw some small birds constantly shouting and chasing a sharp-shinned hawk. As a bird watcher, I’ve heard about this from my fellows. But it was the first time I saw this incident with my own eyes. Whoever sees this incident for the first time will be just perplexed. So, today I going to break down this topic, why do small birds chase hawks?
Small birds can group up and chase hawks or other predators. They attack hawks to save their nest of hatchings and eggs from the hawk’s attack. Small birds and hatchings are the most tempting and vulnerable to hawks. So, whenever they see any hawk or predator near their nest, they gang up and make loud noises to chase away the predator.
In this article, I’ve explained in detail why small birds chase hawks, why hawks don’t fight back a mod and much more about this interesting topic. So, if you are interested in the most dominating bird, the hawk, I’m sure this article is going to be a treat for you!
Why Do Small Birds Follow Hawks?
Hawks eat birds but not the smallest ones. They prefer such preys that can give them energy for a long time. So hummingbirds, Goldcrest, Weebill, Goldfinch, Verdin and other tiny birds are not mostly in the hawk’s diet list.
Such small birds have been seen following hawks. But why do small birds follow hawks? The answer may surprise you!
Though there are some theories or assumptions regarding this, let’s start with the most familiar reason.
Some believe small birds follow hawks to avoid other large birds or reptiles. Birds of prey don’t like to encounter. When they see an opponent nearby, they will try to avoid it.
For Example, if there is a hawk, no eagle or owl will jump in, let alone other birds, because they know such an encounter can give them bad injury and even take their life.
So small birds follow them so that they don’t get hunted by other predators.
Another reason is searching for food. Hawks are known for their extraordinary hunting skill and style. When hawks hunt something bigger and can’t carry it off to their nest, they can’t finish the whole thing. Small birds follow them to enjoy the leftovers.
Well, some scientist claim that small birds follow hawks to learn hawks’ hunting skills. They observe hawks while hunting and try to adapt to those technics.
As now you know why small birds follow hawks, let’s jump to the next topic.
Why Do Small Birds Chase Hawks?
Small birds are most vulnerable to all the large flying predators, including hawks. They don’t have any strong defense. So, whenever they come in sight of a hawk, they don’t have any option without going to the beak of that hawk.
This helplessness made them realize that they could never fight back against any hawk if they were alone. So they found a way to defend themselves.
Whenever they see a hawk near their territory, they start shouting to seek help from others. Then all the small birds of that area group up and start chasing the hawk. This incident is called mobbing.
Surprisingly, other bird species in that area will join this mob as well. The mob will follow the hawk in mid-air. They fly over the hawk and start nibbling on the neck and wings to disrupt its flight.
Sparrows, blue jays, chickadees, crows, and ravens are mostly seen mobbing hawks.
Fun Fact: Crows and blue jays mob hawks and birds of prey throughout the year, while others do it occasionally, particularly in breeding seasons.
When Small Birds Mob Can’t Chase The Hawk Away?
Though most of the time, mobbing is an effective way to chase away any hawk. But it doesn’t mean this trick will work all the time.
Let’s see when mobbing doesn’t work on hawks:
- If the hawk is familiar with such harassing behavior. In some areas, crows are seen regularly targeting hawks and mobbing. In such a way, hawks become used to this. Instead of tolerating such daily dramas, they choose to show who the king of the sky is.
- If that hawk’s nest is nearby. Hawks are very protective, in fact, possessive when it’s about their nest or hatchlings. So, if their nest is within call, they will attack the mob.
- Hawks are seen spending their whole life with the same mating partner. If their partner is nearby, they will chase and assault the mob just to protect their partner.
Why Don’t Hawks Fight Back A Mob?
Hawks are one of the most intelligent birds. They don’t react aggressively or fight back a mob.
Small birds are quick and agile. When there is a mob, it gets quite difficult to chase and catch one. So hawks don’t want to spend energy to kill such small prey that can’t even satisfy their appetite.
Here hawks play the smartest move and leave the area. They know if they stay there, they have to lose a lot of energy to defend themselves, that doesn’t worth it at all.
Besides, if the hawk catches a bird from the mob, others won’t step back. Instead, they will take it as a matter of life or death. They will fight back for their life and try to hurt the hawk in every possible way.
So, hawks avoid turning and catching a bird from the mob because it’s like messing with the whole mob.
Do Mobbing Hurts Hawks?
Most of the time, mobbing is for chasing away a hawk from the small bird’s territory. When it comes to nests and hatching, small birds mob to survive and save their hatchings. And it’s not for hunting or killing the hawk. As soon as the hawks get annoyed and leave the scene, the mob will break down.
But, there are a few records of when the mob killed the hawk. It is very rare. It may have happened one or two times. Larger and agile birds like ravens can cause such incident.
Sometimes, small birds like hummingbirds, Goldcrest, and Weebill follow hawks. They actually do it to survive other large birds or reptiles, to enjoy the leftovers and learn their hunting skill.
However, it’s a common scene to see small birds chasing hawks. When small birds see any hawk near their nest, they shout to alert others and group up to chase it. Most of the time, hawks don’t fight back. They just leave that area because they don’t want to spend their valuable energy.