[CT Birds] Question on bird behavior-"frozzzen"pose

teustis at killingworthlibrary.org teustis at killingworthlibrary.org
Mon Apr 2 21:41:05 EDT 2012

I've seen the same behavior, after a bird of prey makes a sweep of our feeder area. Any birds that don't explode in panicked flight stay frozen for at least five minutes (it would be interesting to time them, and see exactly how long it takes them to "thaw out"). Even after a hawk leaves the area, the remaining birds stay in place for a good stretch of time, even if we're nearby. I've tried to determine who finally gives the "all clear" signal. Are they watching/listening to each other, to see who moves first? Is it a matter of "Let Bob go try the seed first. He's fast."? I may have to take closer notes next winter, when the hawks are trolling.
I do remember one instance when I wasn't aware of a hawk in the area, but I saw this lone titmouse perched in the upper branches of our old apple tree. It had a seed in its bill, and it was frozen in place. As I watched, a look of what can only be described as abject terror spread over the little birds' face: its eyes widened, almost bugging out in a way I've never seen on a bird before. It was facing slightly upward, towards some oaks, and when I followed its gaze, sure enough: there was a hawk perched like a vulture right over the apple tree. The titmouse was out in the wide open, with few options. Another bird distracted the hawk, so the little guy came away unscathed. But it took at least 10 minutes for his eyes to return to normal size.
~ Tammy Eustis, Chester

-----Original Message-----
From: sean at seanmurthaart.com [mailto:sean at seanmurthaart.com]
Sent: Monday, April 2, 2012 09:14 PM
To: 'CTBirding'
Subject: [CT Birds] Question on bird behavior- "frozen" pose

Today I came across a behavior I have seen a few times before that I have never figured out. It was a Downy Woodpecker on a sapling, at about eye level, frozen still. I noticed it as I passed by, perhaps two yards away. I stopped and watched for several minutes and except for small movements of the head, it stayed completely still- even as I moved. It remained there until I left. On past occasions I have seen this with White-breasted Nuthatch and Brown Creeper, and in each case I suspected a nearby raptor but was unable to locate one. In the case of the Creeper I even suspected it was ME that it was perceiving as a threat, and it was trusting it's camouflage. But neither Nuthatch nor Downy is particularly gifted in that respect. Has anyone seen this behavior before and have any better explanation for it? -Sean Murtha, Norwalkwww.seanmurthaart.com_______________________________________________This list is provided by the Connecticut Ornithological Association (COA) for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut.For subscription information visit http://lists.ctbirding.org/mailman/listinfo/ctbirds_lists.ctbirding.org

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