A red-winged blackbird keen on protecting its chicks was recently caught escorting an osprey away from its nest. Rather than hover around the predator as the species is wont to do, though—it’s known for being aggressive and territorial and is likely to attack larger animals and humans for getting too close to its young—the smaller creature hitched a ride with the raptor by perching on a stick it carried in its talons.
Photographer Joceyln Anderson shot the strange encounter, which began with the blackbird circling the osprey as it flew above a pond. As the two called to and wove around each other, they moved closer to Anderson, who was then able to capture their brief interaction. “It looked behind itself several times as the blackbird followed close behind before it landed on the stick,” she says. “I was surprised at how long the blackbird followed the osprey. Maybe it enjoyed getting a free ride on the stick!”