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Skylark singing to avoid Sparrowhawk attack (1 Viewer)

PennineBirder

Well-known member
An unseasonal burst of skylark song in the grey October sky near Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, attracted my attention. I watched a fast aerial pursuit of a skylark by a male sparrowhawk (Accipier nisus) during which the lark repeatedly gave a short but loud and full burst of song.

The pursuit lasted several seconds in which the lark twisted and turned with the hawk in close pursuit. During the chase the hawk made three stoops at the lark by climbing above and diving down at the lark at astonishing speed, swinging up to try again from below and repeat. All too quickly the pursuit was over and the lark escaped.

A paper by Will Cresswell from 1994 describes this song-deterrence by skylarks in a study concerning merlins (Falco columbarius) in Scotland. This evasion technique by the skylark appears to be successful as fewer larks that sang were caught compared to larks that did not. It worked in the larks favour on this sparrowhawk attack as well.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Interesting. If the bird isn't paying a cost in not breathing as well (oxygenating) serves to help overload the Sparrowhawks senses and cause distraction?


I read not long ago that Snipe can use their 'winnowing' display sound when flushed by predators.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
It's telling the hawk "Look, I'm so fit I can even sing while you're chasing! You've got no hope!"


I've had similar with Ring Ouzel, it only sang from a crag gully while a Peregrine was going over near by. Basically saying "Yes, I know you're there, and you've got no hope of getting at me" :t:
 

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