ncook57's picture


I was working on the car yesterday when I heard a lot of tweeting, looked up and saw what I think was a sparrowhawk on the grass opposite with a small bird in it's talons. There were a lot of small birds tweeting and flying around, but keeping well away from the hawk, but a crow dive bombed it a few times before flying off. The hawk was just sitting there ignoring all the kerfuffle, so I edged round the car to try and get indoors to get my camera, but as soon as I got round the car it flew off!

The hawk was mainly grey, and when I looked in my book later I think it must have been a female sparrowhawk. Shame I couldn't get my camera for some of you to help with the identification.

I wondered why the crow was dive bombing the hawk, as the bird it had was obviously not a crow.



j.tweedie's picture

Crows often harass

Crows often harass Sparrowhawks and other birds of prey. I think they see them as a threat, but also as rivals to food sources.

You'll also often see crows harassing birds like Grey Herons - they must think of them just like they do of birds of prey.

RandomAccessMemory's picture

I agree. We regularly have

I agree. We regularly have Buzzards, Red Kites and Grey Herons flying over and they are frequently mobbed by Carrion Crows. Buzzards have twice tried to nest in trees in our small wood, but have given up because of continual harassment by crows. A Peregrine brought down a wood pigeon in the next field, but again was mobbed incessantly by crows. It eventually abandoned it's kill when half a dozen sheep wandered over to see what all the fuss was about. Speedier Sparrow hawks seem to avoid this attention whilst on the wing, although some years ago a great commotion in the garden distracted me from the job in hand and I saw a Sparrow hawk had grabbed a starling in the ivy on a tree. The hawk was "back peddling" furiously whilst the starling clung on grimly. It's alarm calls attracted the attention of all the other garden birds who joined in. The Sparrow hawk won!

tootsietim's picture

Similarly, when a sparrow

Similarly, when a sparrow hawk regularly flew over my workplace, the pied wagtails in the area ( upto 6 at a time) would fly up to mob it. On one fateful day, one of the wagtails got a little too close. With a deft flip in mid flight, the hawk snatched the unfortunate wagtail and made off with it, the other wagtails in hot pursuit.

Ray Turner's picture

Crows v Woodpigeon

Crows do tend to mob all sorts of things, sometimes for obvious reasons sometimes not. I have seen them mob wood pigeons relentlessly both at my dad's and in my garden too. I normally have several ‘woodies' hanging around but this spring a pair of crows has nested in the large tree next door and have driven them all out. Not quite sure what the crows have against wood pigeons, I assume they see them as a competitor.


anthonyallen's picture

Dive bombing Crow

The crow was probably mobbing the sparrowhawk because it was either trying to take the prey from the Hawk or it was trying to scare it away from the Crows territory.

Matt P's picture

Crows and Birds of Prey

Crows routinely harrass any bird of prey which they can catch up with.
Presumably this "mobbing" behaviour is an attempt to drive away a potential threat from the area, and in the circumstances which you describe, the crow would almost certainly have stolen the hawk's victim, had it been dropped. A crow would be a formidable opponent for a sparrowhawk, and probably a little too big even for a female to tackle.
Crows also commonly mob buzzards, and I was watching one such incident last spring.
Two crows were diving on, and generally harrassing a lone buzzard in flight. I've seen this countless times and all that usually happens is that the buzzard might duck and weave a little, but generally just continues on it's way.
On this occasion however, the buzzard flipped onto it's back and grabbed one of the crows as the crow was in mid swoop.
The buzzard clearly had a good grip and both birds fell some distance, with much swearing and flapping of wings, before they separated and went their seperate ways.
I've never seen this, or even heard of a buzzard doing this before.

sirhandle's picture

I've just seen exactly this

I've just seen exactly this behaviour at Ravenglass. 2 crows mobbing a buzzard when the buzzard turned the tables and grabbed one of the crows in exactly the same fashion as you describe. It eventually let go but the crow was clearly hurt and was struggling to fly. Couldn't see where it landed!

Just go out there and do it!!!