I honestly thought yesterday was going to be the strangest day on the particular job assignment I have here in the southern Midwest. It apparently wasn’t quite over. Another day on the job, another day of animal parts in trees!
As I was walking my point, something in the trees caught my attention. Do you see anything? If you have colorblindness, you may not. Basically, I noticed a red bird not moving.
Closer inspection revealed an eviscerated male cardinal wedged and pinned to branch. I don’t think this is a case of a sharpie or Cooper’s hawk dropping some prey after eating from up high in a tree. The body of the cardinal was really wedged into the fork and hooked well on the branch. I suspect the body was cached here by a shrike, but dang on, shrikes are only 9 – 10″ long and a cardinal is about 8.5″ long. That’s some fancy beak work to kill a bird that size. Since shrikes don’t have the talons for gripping and killing that hawks and owls do, after they kill their prey with their beak, they try to wedge it into a branch or in the case of small prey, impale it on thorns or barbed wire as a larder for later or as a way to hold it still while they hack off strips of meat.
I imagine it was a nice meal for that shrike!
Kind of excited to see what sort of dead stuff I’ll find in trees today!