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In Italy, Thousands Of Small Birds Gather To Scare Off A Bird Of Prey

PTI 07 Dec 2010, 10:22:47 IST
The hunter became the hunted in this extraordinary photo from Sardinia, Italy, of a flock of thousands of starlings scaring off a bird of prey, reports The Daily Mail, London.

The lone marsh harrier had not bargained on the the defensive tactics of the birds when it tried to catch one at sunset.

The raptor had fancied one of the starlings for a tasty meal at dusk and swooped down to pick off a straggler.

However, the birds quickly formed a tight band of winged protectors who defended their friend and frightened the hunter away.

The birds had been roosting in trees by a lagoon which is rich in nutritious plants.

Paediatrician and amateur photographer Giangiorgio Crisponi, 69, snapped the images.

The grandfather said: 'At the beginning of winter the common starlings tend to fly around at sunset to roost in high trees.

'They form a large flock of several thousands of birds. Many birds of prey try to catch them.

'Starlings have a very particular way of defending themselves from their predators like falcons and harriers.

'They form a large tightly packed flock and mob their enemy, scaring it off, frequently expanding and contracting and changing shape.

'The day I observed this behaviour I was lucky enough to have my camera with me and get the photo.

'I followed the flight of the flock until it arrived in front of the sky with the fantastic colours and light of the sunset and the falcon appeared surrounded by the starlings.

'Soon afterwards they disappeared behind the trees.'  Giangiorgio, who took the photo near his home in Cagliari, Sardinia, added: 'I like to take photos whenever I get the chance.

'I like to take all types of pictures, but the birds are my favourite.'