We returned from town with supplies New Years Eve to find feathers drifting across our driveway. I looked around a bit, but found nothing. This surprised me because the feathers were from a grosbeak. Our little pygmy owl hasnít been able to carry such large prey away so should still be somewhere in the yard.
An hour later, I looked out to catch movement down by the buck rail fence. The little owl had its catch down a hole in the snow. He was trying to pull it out then finally succeeding. With the grosbeak now lying atop the snow he tried to rise into the air, but couldnít. Two more tries and the pygmy gave up. Abandoning its kill for the night.
An hour later I watched two foxes fight over the bird under our porch light. The loser, a small female then made her way up to our window. It was then I noticed its face was full of porcupine quills. One dangerously close to its eye. I havenít seen a porcupine since spring, but obviously there is one around somewhere.
The fox was back the next night and every night since. We counted ten quills. Itíll be interesting to see how long before they start working their way out. Hopefully there wonít be any permanent damage.
Our pygmy owl was back yesterday morning. This time it zipped about our yard until it caught a mountain chickadee. This he plucked for twenty minutes then was gone. Disappearing into the forest.
Now today, Cindy spotted the little owl on a male grosbeak down by the fence. I waded down and photographed him as he plucked his kill. As I write this heís just returned to feed again. This will probably go on all day.
Two years ago it was martens after squirrels. Last year fox after grouse. This year owl and grosbeaks. The drama, like time, marches on.