My New Book


West Bound and Down!


I’m wrapping up my time in Atlanta and I wait for my flight home to Minneapolis. I have to say that the trade show that I went to was smaller than usual and one had to really search to find something innovative and not just a bird feeder that’s been around for over a decade (or in at least one case, close to 50 years) and call it new. But I did find a few gems that I’ll post later.

In the meantime, I see that Non Birding Bill took my advice and blogged a birding even he and Mr. Neil witnessed yesterday at the feeders. I love it, I’m in the middle of a trade show, busy looking for article ideas and potential new products for the OpenSky Store and NBB calls, “Okay, don’t get mad.”

Knowing that he and Mr. Neil were free-wheeling boys while each one’s special lady friend was out of town I was a tad concerned when the phone call starts with that. I immediately inhaled a calming breath bracing myself for something like:

“We decided to move the beehives to a sunnier spot…and ended up with a broken spleen.”


“We thought of a new bird food recipe involving chocolate a millet and the birds are eating it like mad!”


“Neil and I decided to shave our initials into our hair and now we look totally rad!”


“We chipped in and bought a boat to sail the Mississippi when the ice is out this spring, it’s shaped like a coffin!”

You know, the typical shenanigans men can get into when sensible feminine counterpoint is no longer available. But no, it was that they saw some sort of raptor try to take a squirrel and they didn’t know what it was or get photos. Bill wrote an epic blog entry to the harrowing tale.

Between you and me, the story during the phone call from the two shifted a bit (I used clever questioning techniques learned from watching Adam-12 all last week). It started that they saw a bald eagle take a squirrel, well maybe not a bald eagle, but way bigger than a hawk, possibly and owl, and well the squirrel did get away and we’re trying to find it and it could have been a golden eagle or just a really big ass red-tailed hawk.

Golden eagle would not be out of the realm of possibility. When Golden Eagle 42 was working his way south from the Arctic Circle this fall, he actually flew over Mr. Neil’s. He actually roosted within a quarter mile of our beehives one night. I even got a terrible photo of him flying–holy cow, did I ever post that photo? I need to dig that up, that was a cool tale.

However, this morning as I wait for my flight back to the Twin Cities I see Mr. Neil has sent me further (somewhat gruesome evidence of their raptor adventure yesterday).


Here is the squirrel that suffered the apparent attack. Mr. Neil writes, “This was the only squirrel around after the eagle left and we came out with cameras. I wasn’t sure if it was the one attacked or not, as I thought the atacked one was a short-tailed guy who had been hanging around that feeder all morning. But looking at the photo, I think it was this one after all…”

Mr. Neil also sent a closer image of the squirrel’s head:


I’m not sure that this squirrel is long for this world and I wonder if the raptor in question will be back for it soon? Now I think I have answer to how some squirrels lose their eyes.

Well done, boys, well done.

10 comments to West Bound and Down!

  • A sharp grip is indeed mostly the right answer. Poor little bugger. They are so cute when they come hopping along trying to find the seeds scattered by the birds.

  • Holy shit, you guys are funny! (BC and NBB both, with honorable mentions of Mr. N and noble Cabal). Were it not for live football, John Stewart, Mythbusters and other rare good fiction shows like NBC’s Chuck, I’d just disconnect my DirectTV and read your blog posts instead.

    Of course, if I did that my wife would probably divorce me. It’s getting to the point that if I say “hey, can I read something to you” she rolls her eyes and asks “what are those wacky Minnesotans up to today?”.

  • Cool! I love that Mr Neil found the squirrel. Will Cabal be having squirrel for lunch?

  • That squirrel sure looks like it had a close encounter with a hawk. I think an eagle would do more damage than that, though.

  • Eofhan

    “Sensible feminine counterpoint” left to visit her mom, yesterday. Just finished watching all 3 seasons of Survivorman. What could possibly go wrong?

  • The whatever-it-was (I swear it was a Golden Eagle. I’ve seen them before. My first impression was that it was a huge owl, then it moved and it was obviously an eagle-sized raptor) was trying to grab the squirrel around its middle, but it grabbed the head instead, flew up, the squirrel wriggled and fell into the snow and dashed away, and the bird stopped in a nearby tree, hunched and looked baleful. While I dashed around incoherently looking for a camera.

  • Gonzobad

    Just wondering if the cute little bugger was plinked by a .177 caliber hollow point pellet at 125 ft? Might explain the stapled effect

  • poor squirrel–I have never seen a raptor go after one before. Hawks prowl our birdfeeders–now I know why the squirrels also run.

  • Birdzilla

    Last summer i watched a pair of WESTERN KINGBIRDS raising their four chick in a nest on a utility pole on our towns main street not far from STATE HIWAY 3 in ETNA,CA its realy incredible how these birds have adapted