Mobbing: Fork-tailed Drongo mobbing a Wahlberg’s Eagle
In nature, there are many ways in which animals can try and evade their predators, mobbing is one such way. When looking at the facts, mobbing weighs up as a little bit counterproductive from an outside glance, but when you really get into it, it begins to make sense.
You would imagine that you would not want to charge in and attack the predator that wishes to make a meal of you in the hopes of it leaving you alone, but this is precisely how mobbing works. It is often quite a sight to behold as these tiny, insignificant looking birds, proceed to viciously attack an Eagle many times their size. This leads to firstly fear developing for the poor little bird who looks like it is begging to be eaten and very quickly morphs into mirth at the expense of the poor Eagle who decides that it has had enough of the bullying and eventually leaves in a huff.
In the above video, we see a bunch of Fork-tailed Drongos mobbing a Wahlberg’s eagle. The tiny tenacious birds do not give up until the Eagle has flown off and even then, they follow it for a short distance just to make sure it is indeed gone.
Birds such as Drongos, Hornbills, Rollers and Crows all practice mobbing. There are many reasons for this behaviour but one stands out in chief and that is to protect their young and also to distract the predator although this is not restricted to species that are directly dangerous to the birds in question. Many a time I have had a predatory bird pointed out to me by the cacophony of alarm calls emanating from a fixed position and many times it has revealed roosting Owls as well as Hawks, Eagles and many others, even a leopard once or twice.
Above you can see one such example, the Magpie Shrike is at no danger from the Lizard Buzzard below, but we sat watching it harass the Buzzard for upward of ten minutes before the Buzzard took to the wing and fled.
This is a learned behaviour and is passed on to the young by the parents and has in some instances led to confusions whereby paint tins and other inanimate objects have been subject to violent reprisals by youngsters who are not to certain of their standing.
Blog by Sheldon Hooper (Bush Lodge Ranger)
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