Stop, thing!

I haven’t forgotten about birds! I’ve just been frightfully busy — and, speaking of frightful, I’ve come back with a tale of gore, guts, and, ehh…gyrfalcons? — guaranteed to make your skin crawl. (In fact, it’s a brief anecdote about one bird eating another bird, while a third bird tries to horn in on the snack, but let’s not let facts get in the way of grandstanding.)

On with the tale! At some point last week, I was sitting by the window, watching a fluffy young northern flicker, of the red-shafted variety, trying out its brand new wings. It was stretching them out and folding them back up, as though it simply enjoyed the way it felt, and coincidentally giving the world a lovely view of its bright red plumage. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one enjoying the display: almost the instant I turned my back, I heard a horrific scream from the courtyard. I turned around, just in time to see the poor flicker being borne off by a hungry THING. (I call it a THING not in a perjorative fashion, but because I didn’t get a good look at it, and have no idea what it was.) At any rate, off flew the THING, with the flicker’s dying squeaks tailing off in its wake. And up surged a gull, from its rooftop nest, and flapped off in hot pursuit. The THING wheeled. The gull undercut it. Both beat their wings furiously, and vanished behind the treeline, where I presume one or the other (or both) devoured the poor flicker.

And here they are, all three — you can just see the flicker’s beak sticking out, beneath the THING; I think it’s still alive, there:

The gull is not trying to save the flicker from the voracious thing.  It's trying to snatch it for itself.  I see gulls quite frequently, snatching other birds' prey.  Lazy gits.

The gull is not trying to save the flicker from the voracious thing. It’s trying to snatch it for itself. I see gulls quite frequently, snatching other birds’ prey. Lazy gits.

Dreadful shot, I know. They were halfway to the trees already, before I could snatch up my camera. In truth, I didn’t think I’d caught the THING, at all; I was so certain I’d only snapped the gull, I didn’t bother checking, till today.

(If you can identify the THING, please speak up. It’s quite a handsome THING, I think. I’d like to see it again, or failing that, a better picture of one.)

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