Imagine hitching a ride atop a wild boar or a great white shark.
That’s probably how this red-winged blackbird felt as it stood on a soaring red-tailed hawk in the awesomely candid and (seemingly) rare sight pictured above.
A visitor snapped this shot at DeSoto and Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska and Iowa. The U.S. Department of Interior gave some insight on why a smaller bird would hop on the back of another at least five times its size, easily a predator.
“We see territorial blackbirds (among others) diving-boming raptors,” it said in the photo’s Instagram caption, “but this is something you definitely don’t see everyday.”
Although we don’t see small blackbirds hitching rides on massive hawks every day, Tom Cox, refuge manager, assures that the sight isn’t exactly rare.
“I think it was just a well-timed shot,” he said, according to National Geographic. “In fact we probably see [this] about every day we’re in the field.”
The red-winged blackbird attacking the hawk seems pretty ironic, so why did it happen in the first place?
According to Brian K. Schmidt, an expert on birds, the small feathered creature was most likely just protecting its territory. Though we would expect the encounter to be risky for the blackbird, it probably didn’t put much thought into dive-bombing the hawk.
“It’s pretty gutsy,” Cox said. “When you see them attacking pretty much any bird of pray, they don’t think anything about it.”
Although these birds seem extremely valiant (or down-right crazy), we don’t suggest hopping on any wild boars or great whites in the near future.