Apr 25 2011

Don’t Move!

Published by at 7:14 am under Bird Behavior


For days now we’ve been focused on birds who eat birds (peregrines, for instance) without thinking much about the lives of the birds who become dinner. 

Fortunately for them, small birds have several defense mechanisms for avoiding birds of prey.  To avoid a peregrine in the city, they stay low.  To avoid other hawks they say in thick cover.  When there’s no cover handy they freeze in position, hoping the predator won’t notice them.

Here’s a pair of downy woodpeckers at Marcy Cunkelman’s house, frozen on her porch railing to avoid being seen by a passing hawk. 

Don’t move! 

The hawk didn’t see them.  It worked.

(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Don’t Move!”

  1. Donnaon 25 Apr 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Downies are so cute, as are their bigger cousins hairies!

  2. Marianneon 26 Apr 2011 at 8:59 am

    I have seen the downies do this many times at my feeding area also! There is a Cooper’s Hawk who regularly visits my house for HIS dinner! I always hope that he gets starlings who pig out on my suet.

  3. Anneon 01 Jan 2015 at 6:13 pm

    I had a pair of goldinfinches do this today while perched on a thistle feeder. My partner and I were having a late breakfast, chatting and watching birds at the feeder on a clear sunny morning. In addition to the thistle feeder there was a suet feeder on the same feeder pole, as well as a mixed seed feeder hanging from a nearby tree.

    Besides the goldfinches we were seeing bluebirds, yellow rumps, a pine warbler, a Carolina wren and a downy. So there was the usual amount of activity, larger birds chasing smaller ones off perches, some birds loitering under the suet feeder to catch crumbs from above and so forth.

    Because I was engaged in conversation while occasionally glancing out the window at the feeders, I only gradually became aware that activity had ceased and none of the birds were around… except a pair of goldfinches perched on opposite sides of the feeder, perfectly still.

    At first I didn’t think anything of it, but after a couple of minutes they were still there in the same positions, and no other birds had returned. At that point I looked at the clock and decided to see how long they would stay that way. From that point onward 23 minutes passed before they finally flew off!

  4. Kate St. Johnon 01 Jan 2015 at 6:35 pm

    That’s a neat observation, Anne.

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