Songbirds Fight

Two female common starlings fighting in D.C, 9 April 2013 (photo by Angela N via Flickr Creative Commons license)

25 February 2021

As winter ends and spring arrives, songbirds work hard to claim territory and mates. They usually sing to warn away competitors but sometimes sound is not enough. They resort to fury.

Though songbirds are small and seem powerless they resemble their dinosaur ancestors when they fight. The action looks vicious but they move so fast that it’s hard to capture on camera.

Above, two female (European) common starlings fight on the lawn at the Library of Congress in April 2013. Below, carrion crows fight in London in 2021.

Eastern bluebirds are normally gentle but not when they fight for a mate as photographed by Karen DeSantis in 2014. Click here to see a slideshow of the bluebird fight.

Eastern bluebird fight (photo by Karen DeSantis)
Male bluebirds fighting, 2014 (photo by Karen DeSantis)

Sometimes a bird mistakes his own reflection for a rival and goes all out against a mirror. This American robin fought his reflection at Charlie Hickey’s house in 2013.

Robin fighting his reflection (photo by Charlie Hickey)
Robin fighting his reflection (photo by Charlie Hickey)

Songbird skirmishes usually end quickly. Otherwise someone will get hurt!

(photos from Angela N via Flickr Creative Commons license, Karen DeSantis and Charlie Hickey; click on the captions to see the originals)

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