Friday, April 17, 2009

Backyard Predatory Frenzy

Tonight is a weird night around our place. I think of spring as a time of new life, that particular shade of green from new growth, working in the ground and fresh radishes as a garden welcome. What I forget is that everything else is waking up and thinking the same thing and their diets aren't always so benign.

Just a bit ago I went outside for a few minutes and stood on the deck. Within five seconds a rather large and fat cat I've seen for a couple of years darted guiltily off to stare at me from under my bayberry tree. A second later the turning shine of its eyes alerted me to the rabbit standing nearby very still. He seemed to be considering whether I was more of a threat or the cat. I eventually got between them and shoo'ed them both in opposite directions.

Hearing a rustling, I looked up and who did I see but my very own household sociopathic owl. He looked down at me with those shiny eyes and I skeedaddled back up onto the deck. He is truly a disturbed owl. He can eat all the squirrels or rabbits he wants, we can share our space just fine, but must he bring them into the branch of the tree right outside my bedroom window and let them scream for up to an hour while he just stands there with his claws in it? Demented. Truly.

So there I am back on the deck having a serious conversation about the need for sleep tonight with a most uninterested owl when I hear a mad splashing and very pathetic keening from the shore of my wetlands. It is followed by another mad splashing, silence, a weaker cry and then a crack. Silence. There goes one of the baby geese or ducks.


Spring is a time of new life, but darkness brings out those who feed on it. I suppose this is one of the downsides of having such a wildlife friendly urban homestead. It offers a chance oasis in our man-made city for them but the cycle of life goes on.

Just thought I'd share. But now I have to go get that owl to leave Mr. Bunny alone. I rather like him hanging about nibbling on things I prune from the garden. He's just so polite!


Aimee said...

I think it's fantastic that your home can support a diversity of predators. Congratulations on preserving a little bit of the wild. Sorry about the baby duck though.

fullfreezer said...

I agree with Aimee, it's fabulous that you can support both the predators and the prey. About the most exciting we have gotten is the occasional hawk.
What fun to have a sociopathic owl.

Anonymous said...

In a way, the fact that you *can* have the predator and prey together is something somewhat unique in the urban world - around here, its hard to find either. Though I can see how its more than a bit sad to see an animal fall victim to another.... Somehow that never changes for me, even reading it and knowing it is part of the world. Your owl - that does sound a bit creepy!

ATW said...

Some will consider me sick and twisted. And you probably know how I feel, being a falconer. Raptors are amazing creatures. They live to do one thing and thats kill. Do you know what type of owl it is? Im guessing a Great Horned Owl. Just from the behavior of bringing the carnage back to the nest are tall tail signs of an ol Great horned owl. Im curious. I think it's awesome you are able to have such a diverse array of wildlife surrounding you. I bet you never get bored.

ChristyACB said...

ATW - I'm not quite sure what kind he is, though he is huge and he does have these tufts on the side top of his head. After the first time I saw him, I went to a big park that houses local, rare local or endangered local predator birds to look at them and see. The one it looked like was the great horned owl, especially those ridiculous tufts. I can never get a picture of him (or her) though because of the dark. The noises it makes are amazing too. Not just hoo-hoo, but all kinds of crazy stuff, even barks!

ATW said...

Christy- you have yourself a Greaft Horned owl. And fromt he looks of it, he may be a female. The only sexual dimorphism apparent in birds of prey are size and females are larger than males. One day when I was hunting in the PA. I came across a horrid sight. A flock of turkey who had roosted in the evergreens were eviscerated. There were guts and everything hanging all through the canopies. At least 6 turkeys were killed and look liked the scene from the predator and in the midst of it all was an owl feather, a Great horned Owl feather. Simply amazing.

ANd for some more useless info, The Great Horned Owl is the Only predator in North America that preys on Skunks, because they can't smell. And if you ever get a feather you will notice that owl feathers are webbed at the edges to make them virtually silent when they fly. Im sorry I can talk about birds of prey for hours. I hope you have fun with your Ol Owl. And BTW if you ever find a raptor thats been hurt or young that has been abandoned, let me know. I use to do some volunteer work for a place in Falls Church. I hope they are still there. But if they are they take in all raptors. Another thing Pleaseeee if you that girl ever gets hurt please be careful if you have to contain her Great Horns are Nasty. The best way is to get a huge blanket and cover her, Wrap her and be very aware of where her feet are and place her in a large box or animal crate for transport. Just some useful information, if you ever find yourself in a situation.

Jennifer said...

The sociopath owl made me laugh, but I am sorry about the baby duck! Rabbits don't last long around here, at least the baby ones don't. Our cat D.C. is one of the most skilled rabbit hunters there is. How I wish she would stick to mice and rats though!

FarmHouse Style said...

I know it is just the way of nature, but it seems so cruel to see the baby rabbits, and birds become a meal.

That is one of the major downsides of owning farm animals. I have to constantly guard against predators, and sometimes... they win.