This week’s photo, taken June 29, 2013 south of Ellensburg, WA, features a diminutive WESTERN KINGBIRD and its teammate, an OSPREY, performing in the annual Synchronized Flying Championships. Competing in the “Extreme-Size-Difference” category, here they are executing an incredibly intricate wings-spread, beaks-open, talons-forward maneuver, which has a difficulty rating of 3.2. Actually, the kingbird is probably trying to drive the osprey out of the kingbird’s territory.
I often hear people ask, “Why do small birds chase big birds?”
One veteran birder responded to that question, “Because they can.”
There’s truth in that statement. Smaller birds are more maneuverable, so if they stay behind and above their much larger adversary, they probably will avoid being caught in the humongous bird’s claws. Although it’s unlikely that a small songbird will cause any physical harm to a raptor many times its size, the relentless pestering may cause the bigger bird to move on, in the same way that humans might decide to leave an area full of annoying mosquitos.
On Saturday, I am birding with a Seattle Audubon group in eastern Washington. Besides attending the aerial competition event, we make several other stops in the Ellensburg and Cle Elum area, and we find plenty of birds not usually seen in Seattle. By the end of the day, I add 4 new species to my year list: