Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Mystery of the Headless Squirrel

Only the severest case of cabin fever could drive me out in this weather. But sure enough, there I was, in St. Nicholas Park, scanning the bleak terrain for any signs of life. It was so cold, even the trash couldnt blow around, so it sat there, mutely fluttering. It was around that point that a hawk flew down to a tree stump just up ahead of me. I could tell right away it was the large juvenile I'd photographed all Winter. Steadily, I drew closer and tried to stop the camera from shaking as a I shivered violently. (note to self, carry tripod on really cold days)



It rose up for a kill shot!





It was at this point that I realized the hawk hadnt actually killed that squirrel, but rather discovered it there, frozen stiff. I surmise an adult rth may have killed it and left it for the youngster although what happened next surprised me more. It seems that in the act of re-killing this squirrel it had landed on top of it and now both were slipping off the tree!



And so that leads to The Mystery of the Headless Squirrel: Who killed this squirrel and why? I later climbed the tree and found the main incisors of the rodent and some more bone and blood. The hawk that made this kill carefully decapitated the squirrel and left it in a nook of a tree, where this youngster found it. As the squirrel jerky lay there, I fully expected the juvy to jump down and reclaim its quarry, but in fact it just hopped over to another branch and fluffed out its down. From the pigeon feather on its beak, it seems likely that it had recently fed. It looks as if, despite the cold, this is one well taken care of hawk.

So I left the hawk and the headless squirrel to each other and headed off towards home, herbal tea and pix of squirrel-icide.

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