Sometimes, when relentlessly fighting off hawks, blackbirds need a place to rest.
Or so it might seem to anyone viewing a remarkable image captured recently by Bay Area photographer Eric Dugan.
It shows a red-winged blackbird standing atop a soaring red-tailed hawk as if it were catching a ride to some other destination.
"I was exploring the wildlife refuge and heard the screech of a red-tailed hawk, loud and repeated. I scanned the sky but didn’t see anything at first. Then, in the distance, I saw a young red-tailed hawk sitting on a telephone pole and the red-winged blackbirds were jumping on and off its back and head, apparently to drive it away from a nesting area."I immediately stopped, changed to my long lens and set up my camera in anticipation for the show. As I walked closer, I anticipated that the hawk would take flight and the blackbirds would pursue it, to drive it out of their territory. I raised the camera and the blackbird actually landed on the hawk multiple times.
"The small bird was so far more maneuverable in flight that all the hawk could do was tolerate it and fly away."
Dugan explained via email that the photos "are 100% legit" and that his only edits were exposure- and shadow-related because lighting was harsh at certain points because of the bright sunshine.
"I went back to the same spot a few days later hoping lightning would strike twice," he said. "But the red-tailed hawks were hunting way off in the distance."
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