Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Squirrel Chasing a Bird

On a cold, gray, rainy day, all the usual small birds were pretty active around the front yard feeders – Chickadees, Titmice, a pair of House Finches, Downy Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Mockingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker. One Yellow-rumped Warbler made several visits to one of the feeders, which is a little unusual. Cardinals, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows and Mourning Doves fed on the ground.

One strange thing happened. I was inside, stopping to look out a large window on the second floor, and saw a gray squirrel at the base of a tree-trunk jumping around in a strange way, sort of like a cat playing with a mouse, but more clumsily. Suddenly a small bird streaked out, flying away from the squirrel and the squirrel ran after it. Both disappeared from view, and when I went downstairs to see if I could find them, I could not. I did not see what kind of bird it was, but when it flew, it looked like it got away.

It all happened very fast and was over quickly, but it certainly looked as if the squirrel was either trying to catch a bird or they were squabbling over something. After doing a very little research, I learned that squirrels are known to eat small birds sometimes – something I had never known. We have a lot of squirrels here, way too many – in part because we live in an old pecan grove and also have a lot of oaks. So far we’ve managed to prevent them from getting to the bird feeders (except for a new peanut-butter feeder out back – they’ve just figured that one out), but there are always several squirrels around. They’re a nuisance in many ways and I'm sure they compete with birds on the ground for fallen nuts, seeds and fruit from the feeders. But I assume eating birds is not something they do regularly.


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