Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Interesting Behaviour

I was waiting to cross Newport Road in Middlesbrough this morning when I spotted a Sparrowhawk perched on the edge of a building, a small flock of Feral Pigeons were feeding on the pavement below the building.

The backlog of traffic had passed so I crossed the road just in time to see the Sparrowhawk fly form the building and chase the pigeons. The pigeons obviously had no idea it was on the building above so the Sparrowhawk had the advantage of a suprise attack from above, but instead it dived over the pigeons forcing them into the air before coming back around and chasing the flock accross the road in front of oncoming buses and cars.
All the pigeons managed to escape (just), and the Sparrowhawk disappeared over the roof tops still giving chase.

What interests me is that I noticed the Sparrowhawk about five minutes before it attacked the flock so it knew the pigeons were there. It had plenty of chances to use the element of suprise but instead risked its own life to force the flock in front of live traffic.
Was this just a coinsidence or had the Sparrowhwak been watching the traffic, noticed it had stopped and waited until it moved again before trying to use the traffic as a way of killing its prey?

Has anybody seen hunting methods like this before from any bird of prey or was this just coinsidental?
I have heard of Sparrowhawks forcing birds into windows before and was wondering if this was an advance on that technique which comes from the bird living in the city centre.
The same sort of thing as Peregrines using lights at night to hunt in city centres

Also I got a text from DMcK yesterday saying that he had some Waxwings on the roundabout near his house. This morning I see somebody has seen 60 in Sainbury's car park. I was walking past there last week and spotted a few good beery trees.
I hope they stick around until Thursday at least, I haven't seen any on the patch this year.


Killy Birder said...

Interesting observations of the Sparrowhawk behavior. I have read of Sparrowhawks adopting various techniques in hunting down prey and adapting this to fit their 'patch,' so to speak. So who knows, you may be onto something. In any event it's always interesting to carefully watch species behavior and think of the hows and whys. Cheers Brian.

Crammy Birder said...

Thats interesting thank Brian, I'll keep an eye out and see if I see the bird do this again

Holywell Birder said...

Was it a young bird Phil?

Crammy Birder said...

It was an adult male, does this mean anything?

Holywell Birder said...

It makes it more credible that your sighting was actually a hunting strategy, if it was a young bird I would have said it was just inexperience in hunting, but an adult male allows it to be a viable hunting strategy. As most likely its done this before, and had success, therefore repeated the process. Interesting stuff.