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Re: GANGING CROWS & LIZARDS




<<I recall an article in _Scientific American_ (or may have been _American Naturalist_... their formats are unnervingly similar to the easily confused) about ganging behaviour in corvids, was published some time in the last 2 years. Juvenile ravens ganged together to harass pairs of adults that had claimed a carrion find. The juveniles mobbed the adults until they were so intimidated as to leave.. the juveniles could then share the spoils. Seeing as the juveniles did not normally associate with one another, this is a sort of opportunistic sociality I suppose.>>

I have not seen the original paper but I can contribute some pers. obs. to this discussion on the corvid side of it.

While walking through a prarie savannah in an open part, two aquaintances and I witnessed one of the most interesting bird watching experiences of my life. Sitting up on a dead tree (_Quercus_ sp. I believe) was a subadult Cooper's Hawk (_Accipiter cooperii_) minding its own business and being ganged up on by a group of Blue Jays (_Cyanocitta cristata_). I have seen various corvids stage rather coordinated attacks on cats and dogs and squirrels but what set this one apart was the extremely well-coordinated individual attacks being done by 5 jay individuals. One jay would get into the hawk's "bubble" and the bird would attack the smaller jay while another jay would hop up and peck the hawk from the back, taking off in time to escape while the hawk lounged in the new direction, after which being attacked by the first bird! It was an endless cycle that also included some use of vocalizations to get the hawk's attention. This was very well-coordinated from mine and my aquaintances' standpoints, set apart greatly from other corvid attacks we had witnessed.

I stop short of calling this a "pack", but that would probably be an accurate term. Clearly if it was a "gang", this was a rather unique one.

Matt Troutman
m_troutman@hotmail.com


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