Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The owl and the squirrel

Just behind my house is a thick row of trees, including about 6 cottonwoods 100 ft. tall, the nearest about 40 ft.  For 10 years or more a pair of great horned owls have used these trees as a rendevous point in early evening, and a singing post at intervals during the night.  And that is something beautiful to hear, the whole neighborhood is in love with the soft "who who whoots".

This grove of trees is also home to a hell of a lot of squirrels.  Squirrels get brave around the owls, even running upside down on the bottom of branches, right under the owls.  Last night, just before a pink sunset I was standing at the window watching the male owl (the smaller one) about 60 ft up.  A little below him in the next cottonwood a squirrel had gotten out onto some twigs to bite the ends off for the sweet first taste of buds.  With a lean forward and a long wing stroke the owl crashed into the twigs and   yellow talons reached for the squirrel.  The owl either hit the squirrel or didn't get enough of a hook in.  A little bank up to the left and the owl was on another perch as if nothing happened.  The squirrel tumbled end over end from at least 50 ft. up in a long arc landing out of sight behind the 5 ft. thick trunk of another cottonwood.  After 30 seconds, about 4 ft. off the ground it walked slowly around the trunk.  I didn't have the binoculars handy so I couldn't see if he had been cut.  Another squirrel came over to play chase, but the lucky survivor climbed slowly up and around the trunk out of sight in the pink light.  

Lived here 17 years.  Only the second time I ever saw a squirrel fall.  The other time I was under the trees picking up branches and I heard something falling and I thought damn this might be the end.  But a few feet from me a squirrel hit the dirt followed by a shower of leaves and twigs.  It lay motionless for a few seconds, then spun and ran off.  Tougher critters are hard to find.

1 comment:

  1. I feed ears of court to Mom's squirrels - fat fuckers. One who I suspect is the alpha male of the group has his fill first...
    Strange, no make this fucking "eerie" - Dad placed a ceramic squirrel in the bird feeder of one of the maples and it disappeared.Are Mom's squirrels worshiping an idol?



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