Peshastin, WA, USA
One June morning when I was getting ready for work, I heard a huge ruckus out in the backyard. Every type of bird and even the chipmunks and Douglas Squirrels were screaming. That usually means a predator. I looked carefully before stepping out the back door (recent bear and cougar attacks on my mind). I live backed up to 40 acres of undeveloped forest. The screaming birds were flying around in a stand of small maple trees 45 feet from the back door. I looked for coyotes and the neighbor’s cats in the thicket – nothing. I checked the ground for snakes – we had a 3 foot garter snake grab some Junco babies last year – no snake. Then I looked where the birds were flying and there, sitting on a limb, was a little Northern Pygmy Owl holding a female House Finch in his talons. His soon-to-be breakfast was almost as large as he was. This is an owl that hunts during the daytime. My husband had heard it hooting the previous day but didn’t see it. We had previously seen one 2 years ago when it was feeding on a quail on our driveway. The robin was the most aggressive, literally hitting the owl on top of its head several times as it flew by it. The owl sat there getting screamed at and bombed by several different birds, including getting buzzed by a red-throated hummingbird, until it flew to another tree where he was more covered by leaves. The birds were still flying around it and yelling at it when I left for work about 20 minutes later.