Flight Fight: Crows Vs. Owl

It's crow season around here, and with the aid of an e-caller and some decoys I've been putting the hurt on a few of the black bandits. Like many crow hunters, one of the decoys I use is an owl. Because, as we all know, crows hate owls and will go out of their way to fight with one.

Whenever I use that weathered owl decoy, it reminds me of an owl/crow episode I stumbled across once, while on a long road trip. I was driving across a stretch of drought-stricken prairie and pulled over in an uninhabited area for a short break. When I got out of the truck, I immediately noticed two large crows dive-bombing something on the ground, about 120 yards away. Grabbing my camera, I went over to investigate.

Turns out these two gangsters had a young horned owl pinned to the ground and were busy hanging a beating on it. And, of course, crows don't fight fair. This was a two-on-one street fight, and they were putting the boots to the owl.

As soon as I neared, the screeching crows backed off and the owl recovered enough to jump onto a handy fencepost.

It looked dazed and sat there for a while, apparently getting its head to stop spinning, while the crows kept their distance, never leaving completely.

Even though I was trying to help it, Mr. Owl didn't like me too close either, so it eventually took off as well. And as soon as it did, the crows were right back at it, trying to drive the owl into the ground.

It turned into an aerial dogfight that filled the air with feathers as it progressively got farther away from me. I kept the three combatants in sight until the owl made it to an abandoned old barn about a quarter-mile distant. The poor owl made it inside, and fortunately the crows didn't follow him in. They stayed outside squawking, yelling insults and calling for reinforcements. Not having the time to follow up on this, I walked back to my vehicle, the entire time wishing I had a gun in the truck. If I'd had one, I'd have taken the time to fill the air with some black feathers myself.

I still wonder what happened to that owl and think about it every time I hunt over an owl decoy. It's just one crow episode that's given me a dislike for these street gangs of the air, and another good reason turn a 12 gauge loose on them.