The Agoni(stic) And the Ecstacy (Or Not): Bird Vs. Mammal

Juncos are fairly tough birds. They hiss and click if you unwittingly get near their nests. So if they can challenge humans, ground squirrels may well appear to them to be relatively easy to chase off. That is the way it seemed a month ago when two juncos challenged a rock squirrel in our front yard. Challenging it, getting in its face, not giving up— all these are examples of agonistic behavior but not fighting. (It’s probably a VERY lucky thing for the juncos that there is no physical contact with the squirrel, easily 20 times as big and heavy as the little juncos, even two of them!) So here is one photo that documents this 5-10 minute drama (The Agon…). In it you will note that the one junco appearing in it maintains its stance TOWARD the rock squirrel, while the squirrel averts its gaze, turns away from the little bird. Yet another example in nature of the small besting the large (or so it appears.)


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