I was ducking out of work early, heading straight to the parking garage, when I got sidetracked by the incredibly loud racket happening by the science building. Crows. Crows going ballistic in their murderous way. Two were calling from the top of a tree. One was on the corner of the building, three stories up, and several were circling. I went to investigate, and then I saw the crow dive-bombing a hawk that’s wandering around on the grass.
I’ve seen this before while camping. Crows are amazing at chasing off bald eagles, or harassing other predatory birds. It’s pretty amazing to watch their coordination. And the fearlessness of this crow dive-bombing a raptor twice its size.
When I was close enough to snap a cell phone pic, I realized that the hawk was mid kill. A male mallard duck. And my approaching caused the hawk to fly away, right in front of my face, and I saw the duck try to lift his head. I walked more quickly over there, not sure what I was hoping to accomplish, but did manage to see this duck take his last breath. I felt sad. Sad that I interrupted nature. Sad that I wasn’t in time to save the duck. Sad that the next day the duck was still laying there, and the whole killing field had gone to waste since the hawk clearly wasn’t risking coming back. Blergh.
But the thing I keep thinking about, is how these crows didn’t have to interfere. The hawk wasn’t bothering them, unless there was a crow nest nearby. Instead, they bore witness to the killing. They called out what was happening. People walked by, not noticing that the crow’s tone had changed. I noticed. They communicated with me. I interfered in the limited way I could. But even if I hadn’t, the crows were trying to save that duck’s life. That is social activism in the animal kingdom.