PEI·Photos

Battling birds: Owl and raven put on display in downtown Charlottetown

A Charlottetown resident's Sunday morning erupted in a flurry of feathers as he watched a raven facing off against a great horned owl.

Photos capture owl and raven raising a ruckus

Evan Dickson's caption: In a Scottish/owlish accent, 'Don't yae mess with me, boy.' (Submitted by Evan Dickson)

A Charlottetown resident's Sunday morning erupted in a flurry of feathers as he watched a raven facing off against a great horned owl.

Evan Dickson heard some crows causing a commotion, then captured the confrontation between the raven and the owl in a series of photos that have been soaring in popularity on social media.

It turns out the raven and the great horned owl were probably both horning in on the territory of the downtown neighborhood's crow population, which is why they put out the call for help.

Evan Dickson's caption: 'That's right, go back to where yae came from!' (Submitted by Evan Dickson)

"It's typical mobbing behaviour," explained Dan McAskill, an avid birder and editor of the Island Naturalist, the newsletter of Nature PEI. "They'll use call behaviours and the crows will respond and come in and mob the owl or other raptors."

"Great horned owls are significant predators of crows in their roost areas and the crows will aggressively chase and try to push owls out of any area they see them in."

Evan Dickson's caption: 'I'm the … batman.' (Submitted by Evan Dickson)

What's interesting in this case is that the raven and the great horned owl ended up going toe to toe — or is that talon to talon — with the crows flying around in the background. The crows had the most to lose.

"They can be supper," joked McAskill.

And between a raven and great horned owl, who would win?

"No idea," said McAskill. "Crows will mob ravens as well."

The crows behind the owl are 'mobbing' the owl, trying to protect themselves against the predator. Evan Dickson's caption: 'This looks like a good sitting branch.' (Submitted by Evan Dickson)

According to McAskill, great horned owls can be seen fairly regularly in downtown Charlottetown and there may even be one nesting at Victoria Park, where there would be plenty of crows to snack on.

The great horned owls are most likely to be spotted at dusk and dawn when they're out hunting.

Evan Dickson's caption: 'Oy, what's this then?' (Submitted by Evan Dickson)

McAskill isn't surprised that the photos of the owl and raven are taking off online.

"The behaviour you're seeing, the interaction between the birds, plus the quality of the pictures, the pictures are great."

An owl was also spotted over the weekend at Confederation Landing park in Charlottetown, again causing quite a stir with the crows in the neighborhood.

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