Christmas Magic Continues!Boreal Owl
by Dan Hartman
Dec. 25, 2021Well, yesterday I wrote about a pygmy owl capturing a grosbeak in our yard.
Last night, Cindy glanced out the window and exclained, "There's an owl sitting on the ground!".
I grabbed camera and tripod and desperately searched for a place to film from. Fortunately, I've been filming flying squirrels at night and have a florescent light pointed at our yard. However, I wasn't filming last night, but had forgotten to unplug the light.
Because what Cindy spotted was a boreal owl sitting on top a flying squirrel!
The only place to film from turned out to be outside, so I carefully opened the back door and crept out in stocking feet into the snow.
I figured if I got one shot I'd be lucky. Turns out, the drama would last 2 hours. I had time to eventually put on dry socks and shoes, went through 5 camera batteries and 3 std cards.
You see, a boreal owl and flying squirrel weigh the same, about a third of a pound. The owl can't fly away with it's catch so has to feed for awhile. And even though I was set up only 20 feet away, she was not about to give up the squirrel. I say she because only female boreals are large enough to kill an adult flying squirrel.
For that matter, I would really have liked to have seen the actual kill. It must be a struggle! I've only seen this once before and the squirrel was half eaten on that occassion.
Ok, so here's how it went.
The owl must have hit the squirrel 10 or 15 feet up a tree and drove it to the ground. Because most of the squirrel was under the snow.
She ripped at the squirrels hide, trying to get at the meat. She paused a lot to look around. A fox had just passed by.
This continued for an hour. Finally she began to feed. At an hour and a half, she had severed a third of the squirrel. After looking around for at least 5 minutes, she flew off in to the night carrying away part of the squirrel.
15 minutes later, she was back. This time she fed much more agressively. Finally about 10:15 PM she flew off with the remainder of the carcass.
One thing I should mention. The whole time the owl was feeding, flying squirrels would fly in and perch 10 to 15 feet away to watch the owl. Sometimes 2-3 at a time.
She Drove The Squirrel Into The Snow
Sitting On The Squirrel
She Begins To Feed