And the voice of the dove WILL EXPLODE YOUR EARDRUMS
June 25, 2012 7:26 AM   Subscribe

What bird did I just see harrassing a squirrel in my Toronto backyard? (Sorry, I couldn't get a camera in time so I have just a verbal description, no picture).

A bird just successfully chased a black squirrel back and forth along the roofs of the garages my neighbours and I share until the fluffy rat (who is a prime suspect in strawberry thievery) jumped down into someone else's yard. The bird flew away before I could take a picture.

The bird was proportioned similarly to a dove with a slim body and a small, round head. It had a long tail that fanned out in a slight wedge, rather than a pointed tail like a swallow. Its colouring was mostly a warm grey / almost buff with some small white streaks/patches in the body. (It was not a magpie -- I checked.)

I would have guessed it was a Mourning Dove, but its voice was raw and raucous -- in fact, when I first heard the disturbance outside my office window, I thought I was dealing with a blackbird or a crow. The distress call on the page I linked doesn't sound anything like what I heard, but do doves sound as raw as corvids when attacking a threat? (I presume it was defending a nest.)
posted by maudlin to Science & Nature (5 answers total)
A mockingbird, I would guess. That's their M.O. right there.
posted by Coatlicue at 7:28 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe a Gray Jay, aka Canada Jay, Camp Robber, Whiskey Jack?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:33 AM on June 25, 2012

Ha! I think it was a mockingbird. The fourth picture in this array looks a lot like what I saw, and the aggressive rasping call seems about right. Weird, I never thought mockingbirds would range as far north as Toronto, but the Cornell map says that they do. Thanks!

On preview: I checked out the Gray Jay but its range is well north of Toronto and it looks too pale and squat. Maybe a new hybrid? (Cue mockingjay references.)
posted by maudlin at 7:39 AM on June 25, 2012

Mockingbirds will chase cats around too, or they do around here anyway. I'm not even sure they have to be defending a nest either.
posted by jquinby at 7:54 AM on June 25, 2012

Mockingbirds are awesomely fearless! Look at a few more pictures. The white patches on the wings make them pretty distinguishable if you see one again. They are seriously tough and will attack cats, dogs, even hawks! There is a group (does this have a name?) out where I wait for the train that regularly does battle with a murder of crows that are much larger than them. The mockingbirds win every time! I love those crazy bastards.
posted by troublewithwolves at 7:27 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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