Blood Lust II

By , May 23, 2011

Happily, the squirrel war I instigated Saturday may be short lived. I seem to have broken up the clan that had been nesting in the shed and causing a fuss around the cabin. For the moment, there seems little need to go beyond that. We like having the squirrels around for the most part; they have their own niche in the forest, and provide us with spruce duff for the garden and outhouses. Total eradication isn’t a part of our plan.

However, the balance may be pursued by other agents in the neighborhood.

I mentioned that a raven had come and eaten one of the squirrel carcasses, at considerable risk to itself (see Blood Lust). Later in the day, a squirrel started creating a racket in a tree near one of our tree houses. I headed up that way with the air rifle, but as I approached, a raven swooped in silently. As I watched, it hunted the squirrel. At one point, it actually grabbed it briefly. They tumbled together, struggled, and the squirrel escaped. The raven stayed in the area for a while, then eventually left.

Ravens are intelligent, incredibly flexible birds. They scavenge, largely, but I’ve never heard or read of them hunting, nor have I ever seen it before. Its grab for the squirrel failed largely due to its lack of raptor beak or hooked claws for hunting and killing. What I saw raises questions.

We have at least one nesting pair of ravens on the homestead. We’ve never seen a nest, but small groups, two or three, haunt the treetops near the cabin. They vocalize a little bit, but are largely silent, as ravens reportedly are near their nests. Most eagles that try to alight in nearby treetops are usually driven away. At certain times of the year the ravens grow raucous, sometimes cawing constantly for hours at a time. I’ve recently learned that young ravens often do that, so these may be growing nestlings feeling their oats, as it were.

Squirrels will raid bird nests to eat fledglings. Possibly this raven I saw was trying to remove a threat to its young. Or maybe it had developed a taste for squirrel, and wanted more?

Probably not. We’ve noticed a raven coming into the yards, which they rarely do ordinarily. It could have been chasing squirrels before getting a taste of the one I killed. Most likely, what the raven did has been an ongoing situation that has nothing to do with us. It’s impossible to say for sure.

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