Hawk attack

I think hawks are generally seen as predatory attack type birds, but they are often on the receiving end, but this is the first time I have heard of tui attacking them.

ODT:  Aerial clash with tui sidelines hawk

As a nearby resident watched, the harrier was soaring in mid-air when “out of the blue, a tui charged him” and “slammed into the harrier so hard” it broke its wing, Dunedin Wildlife Hospital veterinary surgeon Dr Lisa Argilla said.

After the predator “just suddenly dropped out of the sky”, the resident looked after the injured bird overnight on June 29, and contacted the Department of Conservation, which contacted the wildlife hospital at Otago Polytechnic.

Hawks are seen more during the winter down here as they search for food. In a trip to Invercargill last month we counted twenty hawks on the way. They look out for possums, rabbits and other road kill – and cars are one of the biggest risks to them.

I often see a harrier hawk (swamp harrier) cruising along the bush line looking for lunch.

There are a couple of magpies who often chase and attack a passing hawk – I can remember magpie attacks on hawks from my childhood. The magpies can fly much faster, and circle, swoop and dive bomb hawks in flight.

Over the last couple of months we have had frequent visits from a pair of spur winged plovers who like open paddocks. I was working outside last weekend and heard their familiar squawking and wondered what the commotion was about.

There happened to be a hawk cruising by. The plovers took off, gained height and caught up with the hawk and swooped and harassed him for a kilometre or so until they had chased him out of their territory.

So hawks aren’t popular with a few different types of birds.

We have regular tui around here but I have never seen them attacking a hawk – they usually stick to chasing bellbirds (korimako) and each other.

The plovers are quite big, and are relatively recent immigrants from Australia, having first been observed nesting in Invercargill in 1932. They are now widely spread, but I have only recently seen them here.

Magpies are also Australian immigrants, introduced here in the 1860s and 1870s (mainly to control insect pests).

Harrier hawks (kāhu) are widespread throughout Australasia, including New Zealand islands like Chatham Islands, and the Snares, Auckland, Campbell and Kermadec Islands.