Monday, October 13, 2014

A Northern Harrier and a Crow Spar over the Beaver Pond

A female Northern Harrier coming in low near the beaver pond
There has been some interesting activity around the beaver ponds lately and this time it doesn't involve the beavers. The action was provoked by the presence of a female Northern Harrier. The Harrier is just one of several species of raptor that have been stopping by the nature preserve as they migrate south. This particular bird was hunting at one of the beaver dams. Hunting there can be pretty lucrative since small rodents live in and travel through the many nooks and crannies in the dam's structure. This Harrier is not the first raptor to notice the dam's potential. This time, however, it looked like a family of resident crows didn't appreciate the Harrier's interest, but their interaction with her hardly seemed very serious. It was more like the kind of sparring seen between sibling hawks. In other words, it was more like play.
The Harrier makes a commotion over the beaver dam
The harrier's attention is fixed on detecting the slightest movement on the ground
Hearing is enhanced by a facial disk - outlined by a light ring of feathers around the face
Coming back in to the beaver dam
Stirring up some mayhem with one of the crows
That got her attention
The Harrier is a bit larger than the crow, but is able to match some of its maneuverability
The course of the pursuit changes direction frequently
The Harrier is deliberately laying back - obviously the intent is not to catch or even to strike the crow
These 2 birds are just in it for the fun
The crow pulls in its wings and goes into a dive - the Harrier puts on the air brakes
The crow plummets, but the Harrier stays on target
Closing the gab quickly this time
The crow inverts and begins to peruse the Harrier
This time the Harrier begins to go into a dive 
Not to be outdone by the crow, the Harrier executes a complete inversion 
The crow is back in pursuit - the Harrier lays back and allows her to catch up
The crow does a dive complete with a back flip
The Harrier returns to hunting 
The white patch at the base of the Harrier's tail is an excellent field mark
Taking a needed rest after a long play session 

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