Thursday, January 6, 2011
I was weaving through a crowded parking lot trying not to be nudged, or worse, by any of the endless stream of slow-circling cars searching for non-existent empty spots. What made my task more challenging was the drama in the sky above. A pair of Common Ravens was trying to kill a pigeon. One would dive at it, almost knocking it from the sky, and as the pigeon almost regained its balance, it was swooped by the other, and on and on it went, from one end of the parking lot to the other and back again. The ravens croaked little communications back and forth and succeeded in herding the exhausted pigeon to the sidewalk, but in front of a busy market. If not for the confounding humans, the pigeon would have been got. It fluttered up under an awning and rested there a while. The ravens knew where it had gone, and sat atop the restaurant across the way, waiting for it to emerge. I left at this point, so don't know what happened next.
Two things: One--I've never seem ravens hunt in the middle of the city before (have only seen them dumpster dive). I was amazed at how coordinated their attack was. Two--The other pigeons (a flock of about 20), seeing that the ravens had selected their target, simply landed on a nearby roof, allowing their comrade to fend for itself. When predators attack, the chaos of a flock in flight is beneficial to all, but when it's clear that the ravens are hunting non-randomly, thank your lucky tail feathers they didn't pick you.