That is interesting. Thanks, Ron. I had no idea they did that, and the
headless corpses generally attributed to GHOs' unceasing compulsive
predation even when stuffed with food would have led me to guess they
didn't cache prey.
I was particularly struck by the thing about their sitting on their
cached and now frozen meals to warm them up to a texture they can take
apart because when a Boreal Owl took up winter residence in downtown
Boston 10 years ago or so, one of the things that struck me every time I
went to see it was that it was always, always sitting on a dead rat as
it snoozed in the small tree it was roosting in during the daytime.
Every once in a while, the owl would wake up, rouse and shake itself,
then look down indignantly (it seemed to me...) at the rat corpse and
give it a couple of good, hard whacks, as if it wasn't quite sure it was
dead, before settling back to sleep.
It wasn't cold enough in mid-city for the rat to quickly freeze solid,
but that behavior was surely an instinctive one, and it occurs to me
that those whacks may have served to test a dead wintertime snack to see
if it was warm enough to eat.
That owl was fat and happy all winter dining on abundant city rats, so
whether it ever did eat the extra rat or not, or preferred going off for
fresh after nightfall, I have no idea. It did seem to have carried it
off when it left the roost because there was no graveyard of visible rat
remains below the roosting place, and the rats were way too big for the
little Boreal to swallow whole.
I wonder what it did with those nightly snacks, carry them off somewhere
else to eat before starting the night's hunting, or stash them in a
cache or just drop them somewhere when nice fresh prey presented itself?
On 1/13/2014 11:03 PM, Ronald Payne wrote:
> Actually, just this morning on Mary Holland's Naturally Curious blog...
> Ron Payne
> Middlebury, VT
> On Mon, 13 Jan 2014 22:54:42 -0500, Jane Stein <[log in to unmask]>
> I've been lucky to be able to watch 3 different Hawk Owls over the
>> years, and they seem to be incredibly good at spotting and catching
>> rodents with one quick dive. I saw very few misses.
>> The fascinating thing to me is that at least one of the three kept a
>> couple of food caches nearby. So it hunted pretty much without
>> stopping, and if it caught more than it needed, it stuck the dead prey
>> item in one of the caches for future meals. I never saw and nobody I
>> talked to ever saw it actually take and eat prey from one of those
>> caches since there were abundant mice/voles and it had no problems
>> feeding itself.
>> I've never heard of other owl species doing this, has anyone else? I
>> can't help but think of how useful a habit that would be if there was
>> a melt/freeze cycle that put a heavy crust of ice over the snow and
>> made it so much harder to catch rodents scurrying through the snow
>> under the ice layer.
>> On 1/13/2014 10:04 PM, Liz Lackey wrote:
>> > 1 snowy owl present today at Knapp Airport in Berlin, VT. A USDA
>> > wildlife service truck was in the proximity, setting up a bow net
>> > spring trap to capture it. By the time we left, the trap had been
>> > dismantled, and taken away. Then a second truck (not USDA) seemed to
>> > stay with the owl as it rested near the edge of the runway. All this
>> > was occurring across the runway from either the cemetery or Benoit’s
>> > Electric. 11:30-12:30pm. >
>> > I later ran into an acquaintance who works adjacent to the USDA
>> > office there. He reports that this office had only learned yesterday
>> > about a snowy owl being at the airport. I don’t know if the airport
>> > asked them to remove the bird, or not. But I did find out that they
>> > aborted the trapping operation midday as they were uncomfortable
>> > having an audience (of birders). >
>> > We did not see a second, darker snowy owl. >
>> > We found a Northern Shrike in the SE corner of Comstock Rd/Scott Hill
>> > Rd intersection, not far from the airport. It then flew across Scott
>> > Hill Rd., in a westerly direction. >
>> > The Northern Hawk Owl was actively hunting in its usual location in
>> > Waterbury Center this morning at 10:30am. It made a couple of low
>> > swoops across busy Rt 100, avoiding being hit by any cars. Makes you
>> > wonder if it is skill or luck that has allowed it to survive in this
>> > territory for at least a month. I hope it is skill. >
>> > Enjoy birds
>> > Liz Lackey
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