Monday, August 24, 2015

A Mob Mentality

Why do birds mob?

User OutRIAAge02/Wikimedia creative commons
Photo Credit:  User OutRIAAge02/Wikimedia creative commons

Ever seen a group of chickadees take on a much larger Hawk? A group of Blue Jays harass a larger Raven out of your yard? Or even a group of birds harassing a fox? You probably have asked yourself, "Why would a much smaller bird risk their lives to take on a much bigger bird?"  Well, just like people, birds have strength in numbers.  

I have always been interested in bird behavior not just identifying birds.  It is fascinating to watch what will happen next.  Sometimes, the behavior is completely what you thought  it would be  and then there are the times that the result is completely unexpected.  Mobbing is one of these behaviors. You would think these smaller bird would run and hide from the "Big Bad Hawk" but they do the direct opposite. 

There are many theories to why these birds mob larger predators.  They range from: protecting their young, alerting others of a predator in the area, distracting predators so much they don't think it is worth the effort to hunt in the area, to alerting larger predators that a smaller predator is  "right there".  I think there is probably several reasons why birds mob predators and all seem to be associated with removing the danger from the area.  I have to say I have never seen a mobbing by a group of birds actually not work in making the predator leave the area.  They usually leave in a hurry!  There is probably some risk associated with this behavior but I think the risk greatly outweighs the rewards.  

Share your stories of "mobbing" in the comments below or on the Facebook page.

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