Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Do hawks steal nests from squirrels?

The other day I found a broken pine branch in my front yard.  Nothing unusual about that – I used to find them all the time.  Until I remembered that we had our pine trees cut down last year in fear of their collapse during one of the ferocious storms that seem to have taken a liking to our neck of the woods

The next day Mars and I were looking up into our seventy-foot tall oak tree at the squirrel drey that, according to two of our neighbors (B & M), is being remodeled into an aerie for two hawks that have, like the ferocious foul weather, developed a fondness for our part of town.  We have seen the large gray birds soaring over our house and sitting in that tree, but not actually seen them performing any carpentry work on their purported new home.  It was at the base of this tree that I found the broken stick of evergreen.

“Look”, Mars said, “there’s a pine branch hanging from the nest.” 

It was a big one.  A longer version of the one I had picked up the day before. I also noticed that the squirrel sanctuary had, since the last time I checked it out, expanded from its small one-family dimensions (many residents of pocket-size) to an oversized abode suitable for a much larger tenancy (fewer, but bigger, residents).

Neighbor M says he sees the raptor pair busily building when he heads out in his truck at seven a.m.  His wife B has, from their second floor office across the street, seen them likewise employed during the day.  Mars and I have not yet spied them setting beak to branch – or whatever it is they do to construct their mansion.

Which led me to Google with the question, “Do hawks steal nests from squirrels?”  To which unflinchingly replied, “every chance they get! yes, they do along with young rabbits and rodants, [sic] the larger adults are too heavy for a hawk to fly with.”  Not quite the answer, or even the question, that I was looking for – but entertaining in its own strange little way nonetheless.

So what’s going on in my northernmost oak tree?  The forensics evidence of the broken pine branch places the perps in our yard on the same day that not one squirrel was seen at any of our seed feeders.  There were no indications of hawk-on-squirrel violence. Circumstantial evidence – but if that’s all you’ve got, then that’s all you’ve got. Today the squirrel count was back to normal, as was their ravenous behavior.

So for now I am guessing the squirrels are enjoying the comfort of their new oversized digs – but nervously looking over their shoulders.  While the hawks are trying to figure out what exactly it really means to steal nests from squirrels.

And so it goes.

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