Bat-Grackle spot: nice twisties!

I was checking out a new local ‘wildlife’ park (the kind that is really a token two or three acre strip of original runoff stream that is now surrounded by new housing development) yesterday, hoping to maybe catch some spring feathered migrants.

It was the middle of a hot, fully sunny afternoon so not the best time for such things but I’m trying to get in as much birding before the foliage hides them from my novice eyeballs.

Then suddenly, without sound, comes the oddest looking, little muted brown ‘thing’ zooming by over the creek flying about ten feet over the water right in front of me.

And almost instantly, in comes a large common grackle at high speed and the two entangle and engage in an aerial wrestling match before splitting with the smaller creature escaping upstream with the grackle in pursuit.

By now, of course, I recognize the smaller creature to be:

A bat!

I wish I had snapped out of my confusion earlier, as this is the best shot I managed to get out of the engagement that lasted maybe ten seconds in total.

As discussed here before, I had a Grackle last summer at our feeder that took to decapitating young house sparrows and eating their brains, so I figured somehow this battle I witnessed was another opportunistic attempt by these large aggressive birds.

I thought I’d ask here if anybody else has witnessed broad daylight interactions between birds and bats.

It’s funny how your observing mind goes off the trail when it suddenly encounters unexpected sights. It’s like you’ve cracked a filter or something.

I don’t honestly know the final outcome of this battle. I was desperately trying to focus as they flew downstream but I did see the spot that was the grackle eventually perch in distance branches but I couldn’t tell if he caught his target prey.

EDIT: I actually DID catch the final seconds of the pursuit. It’s posted as a low frame animated GIF (highly cropped) in the observation – the second picture.

(The bat escaped capture!)


near one of the big bat colonies in my area, hawks will fly around hunting bats (ex., and night herons will wait below looking for bats that fall or fly too low (ex.

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I remember reading recently about Belted Kingfishers also including small bats in their diet.

seems like bats would make a nice snack for any bird or other animal that could catch one. i haven’t personally witnessed a kingfisher eat a bat, but i wouldn’t be surprised to see a kingfisher picking off a bat in flight, or maybe even hovering underneath the bat bridge and leisurely picking bats out of the cracks. seems like they have the right skills to be OP bat hunters.

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(I have no bird-bat interactions to report, despite the presence of both bats and birds here, but I wanted to shout hurrah for your topic title, which is truly spectacular.)

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I was stuck in traffic on the I-35 N / McNeil overpass around sunset. There was a hawk sitting on one of the guardrail posts as the Mexican Free-Tailed bat colony exited to hunt. Suddenly the hawk flew upwards, then dve into the cloud of bats and snagged one in midair. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever personally witnessed in nature (though I also felt sorry for the bat).


i guess that’s a nice consolidation for suffering a Texas traffic jam. i didn’t even realize there was a colony over there, even though it looks like it’s one of the biggest ones in the area. i guess i need to wander farther from downtown Austin when i’m in the area.

Keep your car windows rolled up if you’re at ground level, though.
It isn’t over water like the Congress Avenue bridge, so all the guano is on the ground…and since the bats are around during the hotter parts of the year, it can get pretty pungent.

Who knows, maybe I’ll see you and get to update my comment on the thread about having never met any iNatters in person.

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