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Starling deaths - caused by Predator

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Old Thursday 16th January 2020, 18:32   #1
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Starling deaths - caused by Predator

https://news.sky.com/story/wales-hun...-prey-11910210

I guess the forensic science proves what happened. Oops, typo in the headline.
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Old Thursday 16th January 2020, 19:25   #2
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Interesting. The theory sounded a bit unlikely at first, albeit possible.

Then I remembered an incident in the mid 1980s, when I was fairly new to birding. I was walking up a fairly steep road near my home. On one side, the ground falls away quite sharply. There were large blocks of flats on each side, so I was looking downward between the gap (I'm not describing it too well).

I suddenly saw a falcon, quite near, cruising in level flight, in the gap between the blocks. I had no optical aid but clearly saw a dark crown, white cheeks, black moustachials. What seemed like dozens of small birds were scattering before it. What struck me was that they weren't flying away from the falcon in a controlled way but flinging themselves away in all directions, careless of where they would end up. Blind panic of a kind I haven't seen since.

At the time, I hadn't yet seen a Peregrine. Seeing my first involved driving from London to Symonds Yat in Herefordshire, where they bred. So Peregrines in London weren't on my radar. I decided that the falcon I saw, in autumn and flying in a southward direction, was probably a Hobby. Now I doubt it. It seems only a Peregrine could cause such panic.

So I guess it's quite possible these Starlings might be casualties of raptor panic.
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Old Thursday 16th January 2020, 21:15   #3
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I fixed your title Pat. Interesting read.
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Old Friday 17th January 2020, 13:39   #4
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I read a post about this on Facebook saying that this would have occurred shortly before sunset on a road heading towards the setting sun, so glare from the road was likely to have been a major factor (with or without predator-induced panic as well).
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Old Friday 17th January 2020, 15:29   #5
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Thanks KC.
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Old Friday 17th January 2020, 16:19   #6
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Fascinating story. You always assume that wild animals and birds are perfectly adapted, but I guess at times they can just get it wrong.

Since this would have made a banquet for the raptor, I even wonder if there was method in what the predator was doing?
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Old Friday 17th January 2020, 16:55   #7
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Originally Posted by pianoman View Post
Fascinating story. You always assume that wild animals and birds are perfectly adapted, but I guess at times they can just get it wrong.

Since this would have made a banquet for the raptor, I even wonder if there was method in what the predator was doing?
Not quite. The man-made road would be the wildcard in the equation.
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Old Friday 17th January 2020, 17:02   #8
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Not quite. The man-made road would be the wildcard in the equation.
Yes, a modern road construction and finish would be a much harder and denser surface if the prey were indeed forced to crash to the ground so that could explain the high numbers of mortality. Perhaps just one or two if it was turf. But more likely the dazzling effect of the setting sun coupled with misjudgement by the lead bird in height awareness was the reason.
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Old Friday 17th January 2020, 18:44   #9
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I posted this a month ago Pat!!

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=384435
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Old Friday 17th January 2020, 18:52   #10
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Sorry Andy, was away in Cyprus then for a month....non birding trip ( mostly! Who said romance is dead.)

Hope you're keeping well.

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Old Friday 17th January 2020, 19:56   #11
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Sorry Andy, was away in Cyprus then for a month....non birding trip ( mostly! Who said romance is dead.)

Hope you're keeping well.

Pat
Gonna have to catch up out there mate, we have friends there who keep inviting us out.

I need to pick your brains at some point.

Happy New year.
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