Fight & Flight: Red Tailed Hawks~


The Holler Red Tails are being besieged by the Ravens. As soon as they take flight they are surrounded by flocks of harassing ravens. (Please click photos to enlarge).


They are usually outnumbered at least twenty to one, and you can see the missing flight feathers from their aerial battles. The raven population seems bloated and out of control. I’ve seen this so many places where I travel.

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They fight continuously. The hawks hold their own for the most part, despite the disparity in numbers. I wonder how they get time to hunt though, since so much of their time is spent fending off attacks from the ravens.


The ravens are relentless.


Here is an actual attack shot into the sun so it’s not a good photo, but you can see the hawk reeling from the raven’s slam and you can see the raven screaming!


The hawks strategy seems to be to fly extremely high and out-altitude the ravens. The one below is climbing. Occasionally at altitude they dive-bomb back on to an unsuspecting raven. Revenge must be sweet for the hawks.


This one is starting the descent to attack. When they actually start to dive, they tuck their wings and dive-bomb at up to 135mph! Thrilling sight!


Rarely they fly away as you see this one doing.


Often other Red Tails enter the fray to come to a beleagured hawks assistance.


Most hawks carry signs of their battles.

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I am, of course, on the hawks side, since the ravens are cowardly bullies, using numbers to overwhelm and harass, but there is nothing I can do, except watch these aerial battles in total fascination.

Speaking of hawks, remember my recent post about invasive windmill farms? My husband sent me this article about the effects of massive windmill farms. Check it out and see what you think. Raptors need our protection too!

Cheers to you from out beleagured Holler Hawks!

128 thoughts on “Fight & Flight: Red Tailed Hawks~

  1. Great photos! I’m so sorry the year this. I wish there were some way to diminish the raven poplulation. Not killing, but maybe they could be captured and transported elsewhere. Blessings, Natalie

  2. I’m so jealous you get to see so many hawks and in flight!! Tee hee! Your pics are fantastic!! Happy Thanksgiving at the Holler! Hugz Lisa and Bear

  3. Wonder if it’s just in their nature for ravens, crows, and blackbirds to attack raptors (of any kind, not just red-tails). Loved the pics, Cindy. As you know, red-tails are one of my favorites, along with peregrines and kestrels. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Cuz. Will you be having family or spending the day with them? Be safe…, and enjoy !

    1. I am the kook!! Which is an accurate name. My son and I were just goofing around with dry-ice and I got some awesome pics! We had the whole kitchen counter-top flooding with fog! No need to act grownup, it’s a holiday! Happy TG to you and your family Paul!

      1. Sounds like fun ! At our age, we’ve earned the right to act a little kooky now and then. Keeps the younger ones on their toes, wondering what we’re going to do next. Would like to see te pics. Hugz.

    1. They are so hard to capture in distant flight! I am still practicing, but it is a lot of fun! Keep at it and you will get it. Thank you so much for your appreciation & cheers to you~

    1. They are fighting for territory and food resources and there are way too many ravens, 100’s of them! Their reproduction needs to be slowed somehow……….The windmills, some as tall as 10 story buildings, create vortexs with the 150mph rotation of their blades that suck eages and other birds in. Imagine the impact of 1000’s of these windmills scattered over miles of hills and valleys…..

  4. I can always tell from the ravens’ screechings when a hawk is in their territory. Actually, I appreciate the ravens chasing the hawks away because they like to circle our chicken coop area and might otherwise carry a few of the chickens away! The ravens come swooping down and chase the hawk away, then peace returns to the land. Otherwise, I don’t like the ravens much either….

    1. Everything has a purpose! As long as the numbers do not grow out of control due to human environmental changes to habitat. I like ravens too. Very intelligent birds, There numbers are just out of control in some places……Cheers to you~

  5. That’s a thrilling series of photographs, thanks also to your commentary! The detail and pattern of the Red Tail’s wings seen from below are amazing. So beautiful.

  6. Good description and the pictures. I was thinking along about old time war plane dog fight. Must be cool to see the fighting scene. I am wonder why the hawks are less in population?

  7. Cindy, Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for dropping by this year & for your posts full of great photos. Regarding those hawks and ravens, we see this too here. I have also seen smaller birds, often mockingbirds taking on the ravens/crows in our area. Pecking order. Furthermore, the hawks/ravens/crows/mockingbirds, et al. are protecting their territories. Each preys on the other. Hawks catch and eat smaller birds, such as fledgeling ravens (we had 7 of 10 duckling “disappear”, probably from the resident red-tails this year). Raven are more than mere thugs. However, each keeps the other in check. You need not take sides (except for our tendency to turn everything into a human struggle, or football match up). Baltimore Ravens vs Atlanta Falcons? 🙂

    1. Been doing some research, ravens are causing several endangered species to become further endangered in many areas. Raven numbers are burgeoning out of control in many areas, like The Holler. They are a highly intelligent, adaptive species, and their success in survival is harming other endangered birds. Human action, habitat destruction, trash dumps, garbage, have all favored the ravens. Many counties and cities are considering programs to limit raven reproduction, so for now, I’ll continue to root for the hawks. The raven overpopulation problem is caused by human habitat changes. Happy TG to you and your family & cheers as well to you my friend. I always enjoy your intelligent comments.

      1. Add them (Ravens) to the list with Canadian Geese. Too many golf courses giving them (C. Geese) nice places to live. Probably would not go over well to limit human population expansion 😉

  8. Great action shots!!
    I’ve not seen ravens attempt to attack hawks,but I’ve actually seen a group of sparrows do it. Actually kinda funny when it’s little birds doing it. 🙂 The ravens and crows here we’re hit bad with bird flu and many died. I’ve only started seeing them again in the past few years. I am oddly attacked to them with their shiny blue/black coats. Maybe the Poe in me…. 😉

    1. I would be too as they are highly intelligent birds, if they weren’t seriously over populated here. Seems to be a problem nation wide from what I was reading. Are you sure there wasn’t some sort of eradication program where you live? Apparently there are a lot in many cities/counties.

  9. Very interesting and great photos. I am always so interested in your photos, that I am just now seeing you and I have the same theme. Now that should tell you how excellent are your posts – the background becomes totally invisible. I hope you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.

    1. I just looked into the issue of raven over-population and it is a significant problem that is negatively impacting the resurgence of several endangered species. When the environment become imbalanced, it can favor certain animals like the ravens. Much research is being done on the issue. I will look further for solutions. Thank you for the intelligent question.

  10. Liebe Cindy muß schon sagen das sind ja super Fotos einfach herrlich ganz toll fotografiert wünsche dir zum 1Advent alles liebe und gute und sei herzlichst gegrüßt Klaus

  11. Always enjoy your action shots, Cindy. Sometimes I watch smaller birds hassling hawks, ravens, etc… especially during nesting season. I do confess a liking for ravens and their ability to survive in environments from Alaska to Arizona. –Curt

    1. Thank you! We have several mated hawk pairs that live around us, so when I hear their cries, I go outside to see what’s happening. They have become used to my presence.

  12. Nature can be so cruel. We have a similar problem with the crows attacking the smaller birds. Great photography Cindy, I know how hard it is to capture those shots, I’ve tried but not had much success

    1. The turkey vultures are such amazing gliders though! I love to watch them fly, although when they congregate, it usually means something has died, so yes, not quite the same!

  13. As a wildlife rehabilitator, now retired after 18 years, I rehabilitated and released many birds, especially birds of prey who had been injured and needed care. I knew when I released them that in the course of their lives they would prey on other wildlife, and a successfully released falcon might kill a thousand songbirds over the course of his or her life. I love songbirds as much as I love birds of prey. Nature is nature. It’s not our job to judge or interfere. As humans, we interfere far too much already, which is the cause of nearly all the imbalances in nature. I feel a sense of reverence for all wild animals — and all animals for that matter. They — especially ravens — have beautiful souls and a purity and innocence that we will never attain to. As a practical matter, all means of reducing an avian species’ population are lethal to the birds, especially chemical agents that are put out as food. These products kill and make sick not just the species they’re intended for but many other species too. Let’s just allow the birds to live as they live and focus on trying to be better humans, since we have a long way to go. If we wish to help redtails, the most effective way to help would be to discourage the use of rat and mice poison which kills many redtails and other birds of prey, as well as countless other species. Let’s focus on curtailing harmful human actions.

  14. Jag är självklart en naturvän och djurvän, men korparnas störande beteende beror väl på att hökarna är ett hot mot deras fortplantning eller matsökande??

    1. Ja de är i direkt konkurrens och korparna är evolutionärt adaptiva överlevande. Det finns en hel del forskning i USA på problemen med korp överbefolkning och deras effekter på hotade fågelarter, men inga bra svar om hur man ska ta upp frågan på ett humant sätt. Tack för din insiktsfulla kommentar!

      1. Tack, nu förstår jag deras “förhållande” bättre. Jag är imponerad av att du svarar på svenska och med en mycket bra sådan också. Översättare eller kan du svenska?

      2. En av mina vänner i skolan var svenska och jag lärde mig några ord från henne, men jag använder en översättare. Jag är glad att besöka Sverige i september 2014! Tack! 🙂

  15. Amazing captures on the wing of those powerful birds,dear Cindy ! Perfect timing and lots of action in the blue flawless sky ! It’s really hard to get such gorgeous performances high up there!
    Bravo ! Love ♥ and hugs, Doda 🙂

      1. Your photos of these gorgeous bird make me think that they are posing for you, in a personal way, like models preening from pose to pose, almost dancing… making themselves available to your knowing eyes.

    1. That’s awesome. My husband relates to Ravens, and I to Red Tails. They are foes, but more aerial sparring than substance to their battles. I think they spar in the air because they can~

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