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.

6 comments:

outwalkingthedog said...

Wow - amazing photo story. Very cool. I usually see a red-tail in & around Riverside Park in the 100s, but haven't spotted one there for a few weeks.

Yojimbot said...

thanks Bro!

Anonymous said...

Hey man - this is amazing. Would love if you can let me know when you spot wildlife in St. Nicholas Park. I am head of the Friends of St. Nicholas Park and our members are always excited by this.

Thank you! And please keep clicking away.

William Mullin
info@stnicholaspark.org


PS - Do you mind if I post your photo and a link to your blog entry on our site?

www.stnicholaspark.org

Thanks!

BronzeBabe said...

I saw the hawk and took pictures of it today. It landed on my fire escape, jumped to the air conditioner and then flew directly across the street into a tree in the park! It was huge!

Akira Kurosawa said...

really bronzebaby? Id lov3 to see that pic or any other pics you'd like to show me.

Anonymous said...

I know this is 6 & 1/2 years later, but this explains why I found a headless squirrel in my yard this morning. It was under a tree that I KNOW has squirrels, and we have about 4 Cooper Hawks that nest within 1/2 mile.