On this day, I watched a pair of Red-tailed Hawks at a local high school. The two birds seemed to be enjoying the updraft created by a strong southerly wind blowing against the south wall of the 2 story building. The hawks would take turns hovering just off the edge of the building. Minimal wing flapping was necessary for the birds to maintain their altitude, which was never more than 15-25 feet (4.6-7.6 meters) above the roof of the school. When the hawks tired or bored they would land on the edge of the school’s roof for a rest. The behavior looked very much like play.

After a few moments, the hawks attracted the attention of several male Great-tailed Grackles that were probably protecting nests in the oak trees in front of the school. The grackles flew up to the hawks, and when they were positioned properly, they would strike the hawks bodily, sometimes several time in a row. I witnessed at least 5 grackles participate in the melee, and saw at least 3 different grackles actually strike a hawk. Before long the grackles had succeeded in driving the Red-tailed Hawks away.

CountyDenton
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CityCarrollton
DateMay 7, 2005
Time of DayAfternoon
TemperatureWarm (70-89°F/21-32°C)
WeatherWindy
HabitatCommunity-Church/School/Civic
Type of BehaviorFleeing, Playing
GenderUncertain
MaturityAdult
ObserverChris Jackson