Why do birds of prey fear humans

How wary birds can be often depends on how frequently they come in contact with humans. The blackbirds in my garden will let me aproach to within a few feet and yet the blackbirds in the ancient wood where I work rarely see humans and will flee at 50 yards. Could it be that blackbirds are naturaly wary of humans , but lose this waryness if they are in constant contact with no problems. Similar behaviour can be seen with hunted waterfowl. I know ponds where the ducks are fed by people and will take bread out of your hand . The same birds sometimes fly out to a local saltmarsh where wildfowling takes place and will not allow a human within 200 yards. So these birds have learnt not only where humans are a danger , but also where they are not.

I think most large and medium sized birds have a natural waryness of people and yet can learn to change that behaviour if the threat does not materalise.

In some ways the waryness of birds adds to their magic and makes the times when we do get close views much more rewarding. Pinkfeet are one of the most difficult geese to get close to , but I will never forget one morning on the Wash when I was in a small creek some mile offshore before dawn I was waiting for the geese to flight from the far side of the big channel when some birds fliped low across the channel and landed on my side of it. Despite the starlight I could not see them , but the whole 10,000 flollowed them and at the first glimmer of dawn the flock started to walk towards me. I stayed hidden in the bottom of a steep sided creek as they apeared out of the darkness until I had the whole 10,000 all around me with some less that a yard away. I could have reached out of my creek and touched them as they made a loud buzzing noise above my head. Finaly they started to jump and fly inland. The noise was deafening as they rose in a wave and wet mud splattered my face as they came low overhead. Amazing , made all the more rewarding in that I had manged to be so close to these wary birds without any of them knowing I had been there. The experiance would not have been so good if those birds had been half tame.


Last edited by Tideliner : Monday 18th February 2013 at 11:05.