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Why would a crow attack a buzzard in flight - I would've thought the buzzard to be the more powerful of the two birds?

Sent in by Gareth Blackham, Shifnal, Shropshire

This behaviour is known as mobbing. It is a defence response to a perceived threat from a predatory bird.

Crows have few predators in the UK but are aggressive birds that are fiercely territorial. The buzzard is seen as a potential threat to the crow, its young and territory and they can often be seen interacting in this way.

Mobbing usually involves more than one bird in pursuit and the targets are usually birds of prey, buzzards in particular but also owls. Even herons can be on the receiving end of hostile attention.

Mobbing rarely escalates into physical confrontation which could be damaging to all birds involved. Despite the buzzard's advantage in terms of weaponry and agility, they are delicate animals that will not risk conflict with sturdy species of the crow family unless it is unavoidable. Most birds on the receiving end of a group mobbing will either sit it out or make a hasty retreat.

The crow family is perhaps the most well known for its mobbing behaviour. The jay is frequently observed harassing tawny owls at daytime roosts whereas rooks and jackdaws will mob birds of prey that stray near to rookeries during the breeding season.

However any species of bird can join in with the mobbing of birds that are potential predators. In fact smaller species such as pied wagtails and members of the thrush family have been observed driving off corvids and small raptors such as sparrowhawks.

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