Sometimes… you just gotta hitch a ride on an eagle. That’s how the world is some days.
Working as a wildlife photographer, you get to see all sorts of unusual things you otherwise wouldn’t, but even so, it’s not everyday you see a bird resting on another bird mid-flight. Phoo Chan has managed to capture just that moment, with a crow riding atop a bald eagle. It only lasted for a few seconds, but the scene was really something else.
Chan explained that crows are generally pretty nasty, even with large predators, but in this case, it doesn’t seem to bother the bald eagle:
“Crows are known for aggressively harassing other raptors that are much bigger in size when spotted in their territories and usually these ‘intruders’ simply retreat without much fuss. However, in this frame the crow did not seem to harass the bald eagle at such close proximity and neither did the bald eagle seem to mind the crow’s presence invading its personal space. What made it even more bizarre was that the crow even made a brief stop on the back of the eagle as if it was taking a free scenic ride and the eagle simply obliged.”
Birds are often highly territorial, especially when their offspring are vulnerable. However, crows (and some other birds) seem to have developed a sort of Napoleon complex. They love to crowd and mob other birds, especially larger ones — sometimes, they “dive bomb” them. Often times, the mere presence of a large bird leads to aggressive behavior. Generally, they rarely get very close to other birds. But this time… this happened.
“This would be kind of like a dog chasing a car and jumping up” on it, says Kevin McGowan, a biologist who specializes in crow behavior at the Cornell lab of Ornithology. “Dogs always want to catch the car, but they never know what they’d do if they get it.”
As bizarre as it is, it’s not the first time something like this was caught on camera. A couple of years ago, a Red-winged Blackbird was spotted “riding” a Red Tailed Hawk; only for a few seconds though, as the hawk was quick to shoo the blackbird away.