Date: 10/31/17 7:30 am From: 'Lucy and Bob Duncan' <robertaduncan...> [albirds] <albirds-noreply...> Subject: [ALBIRDS] One tough little bird
For the past several fall seasons a Merlin has taken up position for a few weeks on the tip top of a dead hickory near the tip end of the Gulf Breeze peninsula that juts into Pensacola Bay. It makes birding difficult as birds hunker down and are reluctant to show themselves. Maybe it's the same bird every year, maybe not. The other day when migrants were passing through I watched it zoom through the woods several times in pursuit, and once, within a minute or two of its woodland pursuit, I watched it gain altitude and chase warbler-sized birds so high I could hardly see them. That would seem a very energy intensive endeavor not worth the trouble, but apparently the Merlin knows what it's doing.
Today, a Peregrine flew too close to its perch and the Merlin took off in hot pursuit, chasing it out over Pensacola Bay and diving on it while the peregrine fled west. After a few minutes of fruitless birding, I turned around to go home and watched the Merlin back on its favorite perch plucking an apparent titmouse. Hey, a bird has to eat! Then, a jay flew in and perched within a few feet of it and watched the plucking, knowing the Merlin was not interested in another meal at the moment. Apparently the Merlin had enough of the voyeur and flew off with its meal.
That does not quite match the spectacle son Scot witnessed the other day in the Seattle area when he watched a battle between a crow and a Short-eared Owl, but it sure was interesting. (you can see Scot's photos of the crow vs owl duel at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40213005 )