The short video above shows how a territorial raven in Australia was caught on camera attacking a drone in mid-air, grabbing it with its talons, pecking at it, and trying to bring it down. It was captured by a man named Ben Roberts who uses the service Wing (owned by Google parent Alphabet) to have coffee delivered during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The Canberra Times reports that raven attacks on drones in a certain area of Canberra (the capital city of Australia) have led Wing to suspend drone flights over that region.
“We have identified some ravens demonstrating territorial behavior in a small part of our delivery area in the suburb of Harrison, and we’ve asked local ornithological experts to investigate this further to ensure we continue to have minimal impact on birdlife,” a Wing spokeswoman tells the Times. “Service will be temporarily paused for a small number of our customers in Harrison during this time.”
Ravens had started attacking Roberts’ deliveries daily before he finally pulled out his phone to capture the assault in action.
“On the first day of aerial combat, they made a hash of the attack – feathers were flying – but by the third day, the two ravens had learned how to avoid the drone blades,” the Times writes. “Mr. Roberts said there were flecks of what he thinks were paint in the air, indicating that the birds had made a hit.”
So far, though, the drones have still been able to accomplish their mission of lowering a coffee to the ground and fly back to their base, but it seems inevitable that a future drone may not be so lucky.
“It’s a matter of time before they bring one down,” Roberts tells the Times.
If you’d like to keep your drone alive in an area with territorial birds, there are certain tips you can keep in mind. Bird experts tell the Times that ravens are more likely to attack intruders during the spring season in which they protect their nests, and those nesting locations should be avoided if possible. When an angry bird does approach, do your best to fly the drone away quickly from the bird’s territory.
Finally, flying in the morning is safer, as many birds of prey use warm thermals that appear later in the day to fly higher into the sky and attack drones from above.
Image credits: Featured image Raven illustration photo licensed from Depositphotos