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Free riding bird on hawk

April 15, 2008

Free riding bird on hawk
Photo: Stumble

You never know for sure whether or not these sort of photos are what they seem or if they are created.

If it’s a real photo then it’s quite incredible, because although I know Crows and Ravens are very intelligent birds, I’m just not sure why a Hawk would put up with giving a Crow a free ride.


22 Responses to “Free riding bird on hawk”

  1. tom meshew on October 31st, 2008 5:44 am

    Not a crow or raven, but a red-winged blackbird. Photoshopped?

  2. Tom on April 20th, 2009 12:09 pm

    Have seen the same thing just north of Reading, PA. Redwing rode on a broadwing’s back, got off while the hawk made a right turn, got back on, and landed on a power line as the hawk flew under the lines and crossed the road, right in front of our car.

  3. Craig on April 22nd, 2009 4:33 pm

    Thanks for the comment Tom. What you saw is incredible and gives us some sort of hope that this photo might actually be real.

  4. Marcus Calhoun on May 30th, 2009 4:00 am

    My office overlooks a river and we have seen both mockingbirds and a sparrow hitching rides on the back of a large hawk. I feel certain that the photo is for real.

  5. Skot Latona on June 12th, 2009 2:18 am

    I also manage a nature center with an office overlooking the river. Not 5 minutes ago I watched a red-winged blackbird swoop at and harass (mob) a soaring red-tailed hawk, then land on the hawk’s back and stand on it while pecking at its neck. It stood on the hawk with its wings folded like this photo for 3 rounds of 5 seconds, and 1 of 6 seconds before heading back to the nest. I think the smaller birds are pretty elusive or not worth the energy to capture, but I did recently see a photo from Greeley, CO (with confirming reports) of a bald eagle capturing a starling in mid-air . . .

  6. Gary Bauman on June 29th, 2009 11:21 am

    While strolling down the fairway at Beechmont CC in the Cleveland Ohio 13 of us witnessed to our amazement a small bird presumably a sparrow land on a gliding red tail hawk 3 times for about 20 seconds per ride. Either it was an unusual example of some kind of synergy or the sparrow found the safest place to be.

  7. bob on June 29th, 2009 1:08 pm

    I saw the same thing today golfing. All my friends thought I was making this up but it really happened!!!! I saw what I saw! Now I have my cred back.

  8. Rick on September 3rd, 2009 1:20 am

    I was driving up RTE 128 in Woburn, MA and saw a Hawk with at least 2 small birds in pusuit and one riding in the exact same spot on his back as shown in the photo. For years I wondered if my eyes had played a trick on me, but now I know what I saw!

  9. Sue on February 23rd, 2010 1:00 pm

    It doesn’t take too much effort to do a search for something if your “not sure” if it is real or who created/photographed it.. This photograph was taken by Alan Stankevitz from his website, I wish I could fly .com. He has several other shots too.

  10. Maria Scold on April 22nd, 2010 3:52 pm

    red wing black bird

  11. Steve on May 23rd, 2010 10:55 am

    I have been a member of the National Audubon Society for over 40 years and this is not unusual behavior in hawks or birds in general.I have held Hummingbirds to Red tail Hawks in my hands for the propose of banding birds and understanding their habits .I have seen many rare and beautiful things.

  12. Jon on May 23rd, 2010 3:41 pm

    Maybe the small birds do a service like eating lice, ticks or other parasites from areas the big bird can’t reach.

  13. James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil on May 23rd, 2010 10:13 pm

    Maybe a seeing-eye crow? We have two dogs, one is older and blind and the younger one, when they are taken for a walk, will help the older one.

    Maybe the crow gets a share in the hawk’s kills?

  14. Mary on April 18th, 2011 3:33 am
  15. Lori Howatt on June 13th, 2011 11:32 am

    I took a picture very similiar to this except it was a redwinged bird riding on an Eagle, I couldn’t believe it!

  16. Jodi on May 17th, 2012 8:08 am

    I believe it’s real. Last year I saw a King Bird riding on the back of a Red-Tailed Hawk at my house! Got on Google and found photos of same, so I knew my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. I’m not sure why they do it, but King Birds are quite aggressive and maybe the hawk was too close to it’s nest and it was harassing the hawk to chase it away.

  17. Keith on June 1st, 2012 11:03 am

    I just saw the same thing today near Mundare, AB. Never seen anything like this before so I looked it up on Google and arrived here.

  18. Jayson McKeown on June 10th, 2012 2:16 am

    I was just telling may daughter about this the other day. When I was a young boy in Pleasant Ridge, KY. I obseved this scene many times. I don’t think the larger birds are too keen on the idea though, it always seemed to me that the smaller birds were a total nuisance to them.

  19. jack donohue on May 24th, 2013 1:36 am

    I saw a small bird like a chickadee? size 2 days ago riding on the back of a Red tailed hawk at the Pembroke golf course in Pembroke ma. same day saw an Oriole and a Great Blue Heron

  20. Stuart on July 17th, 2013 7:58 am

    It’s quite a common sight to see smaller birds, especially crows, mobbing larger birds of prey. Most of the time the larger birds appear entirely unperturbed by the pestering. I imagine that’s what is going on here.

  21. Andrew on May 17th, 2014 1:42 pm

    I witnessed this today, was amazed, and so I googled it when I got home and found this thread. The larger bird I saw was a raptor/hawk of some variety. I thought that the smaller bird might’ve been its offspring but, reading the above comments, I suppose that may not have been the case. The location was on Mountain Island Lake, near Charlotte, NC.

  22. Brenda on July 2nd, 2016 11:25 pm

    I totally believe this picture is real because I have seen the same thing lately. This is why I got online to see why birds sit on Hawk’s backs.

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