Did I see what I think I saw earlier today?

I know that a small squadron of crows set to making quite a racket directly overhead in the backyard this afternoon. When Susan and I came out of the house to investigate I counted five of them circling our smaller palm tree and immediately I figured they were giving some raptor grief that had landed up there in the fronds.

Little did I know…

Upon circling to the backside of the tree I found myself looking up about 25 feet from a magnificent red-tailed hawk looking straight down at me while trying its best to ignore the divebombings of the crows and maintain control of its prey, a medium-sized something that it clutched in one talon while holding the frond with the other.

Only when I said something over the crows like “Whoa will you look at that!” and pointed up, did the hawk get startled, unable to deal with the attentions of the crows above and me below. Upon lifting off it was also unable to maintain a grip on its meal — but the meal wasn’t dead and like a shot took off flying in a south-by-southwest direction toward the downtown skyline over the trees and outta there!

With some fluffy down feathers drifting down upon us we watched as the hawk flew north to land a palm tree closer to Sunset Boulevard with the crows in pursuit and not letting up in the slightest.

But here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure the hawk’s catch wasn’t a crow. As it all happened so fast, I didn’t get a really good look at it so maybe it was and maybe the hawk had invaded a nearby crow’s nest. But the down feathers that fell to earth were light gray and the momentary glimpse I got of the escapee bolting away was that it was a pigeon or maybe a mourning dove.

What’s the big deal about that? Probably nothing much, but to my layman’s eye it’s fascinating to consider that I witnessed crows defending against an enemy — even if the battle they wage is not for one of their own.