An amicable bonding of species or preparations for an attack….?

People tend to look at nature with very romantic glasses, and often push certain stereotypes onto certain species of animals. Think of the ‘ferocious King of the jungle Lion’ (where the females are often the ones hunting while the king is chilling somewhere around). It isn’t different with birds, and our name giving or the ways we put birds into certain groups also indicate stereotypes. For example birds of prey in our minds are stealthy, ferocious hunters with the same kind of ferocious character. Hummingbirds are sweet nectar eaters ‘dancing’ from flower to flower to our utmost delight. Tropical mockingbirds are the mother of melodious singing, waking us up every morning with their ethereal melodies.

Well let me correct you on some of these impressions we all have; there is no bird in the world as ferocious as a very angry hummingbird attacking everything that comes too near to its nest, like the hummingbird chasing off a Crested Caracara (Warawara), using its very sharp bill as a weapon and aiming for its eyes. The ferocious-looking Warawara is a bird of prey, yes, but it is also one of the most ‘bullied’ birds in nature on our island. The Warawara eats meat but likes to scavenge for carrion, dead animals alongside roads, or where we humans dump them. It can hunt and will do so if it can not find carrion to eat. It hunts for lizards, grasshoppers, and sometimes small birds while foraging on the ground. But when it wants to sit on a pole or tree to look out over its territory, it is almost always chased away by other birds, who see it as a threat to their safety.

Attack!

Like this individual, from the moment it landed on its lookout post, it was attacked by a couple of very angry mockingbirds trying to chase it away. It took about 10 minutes for the Caracara to get the message that it was not welcome on this tree and it flew about 50 meters away to another post. Only to be attacked by another couple of mockingbirds there as well. Lesson learned: Even the most ferocious-looking large birds of prey have public enemies who often win the fight. And make no mistake, the sweet singing mockingbird can have a very mean streak.


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