Great Horned Owl Attacked by a Murder of Crows

Great Horned Owl

My husband and I were out gardening when a murder of six crows flew overhead making the largest racket. Right as I turned my head, a mangle of powerful wings crash land onto a pine tree in my neighbor’s backyard. Once the crows flew away, I saw there was a Great Horned Owl left in the branches in nursing it’s wounds. Immediately, the crows took turns dive-bombing the poor owl for the next hour or so. The owl stood firm and unmoving the entire time.

I was intrigued by the crows’ flight patterns. Two crows sat in adjacent trees cawing to the others flying in the air. The airborne four would circle around and start their attacks after the other two started making noise. I’m not sure if the other two were lookouts or they were there to signal when to attack. In either case, it seemed highly organized.

Then the team would take turns diving at the owl, each time coming in from a slightly different direction in attempts to get a better shot. Although their aim appeared to decline the longer they attacked, they did seem to rotate strategies to see what would be the most effective.

However, the owl had picked an optimal spot to rest because the crows could never get a good shot. The owl lost a feather once, but that appeared to be the only damage it received. That’s what I thought at least until I got a closer look at the photographs on my computer. Look at the difference in the two eyes in the photo below.

Owl with Eye Issue

I’m not sure if the crows did this, but one of the owl’s eyes is extremely dilated which might be why it never tried to escape. I can’t seem to find any information about this kind of eye issue in birds online. Even though I’m concerned for the owl, I’m also excited because this is the best view I’ve gotten of the owls in my neighborhood. They frequent the trees across the street during the fall and you can hear them hooting around Halloween (which has been a delight). I know that there are at least two in the area during the fall, but I’ve never been able to see them any other time of year.

If you have any ideas as to what is causing the dilated eye, please let me know. It seemed to stay dilated the entire time it was here, even an hour after the crows left. I managed to take a quick video of it flying away. I removed the audio because all you could hear was my dog barking.

One thought on “Great Horned Owl Attacked by a Murder of Crows

  1. Pingback: Burrowing Owl at the Salton Sea | Birding Ninja

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