Mealtime for a pueo

Pueo with mouse

Pueo clutching mousePueo with mouse in beakPueo with mouse tailLast week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme was ‘Flight’ and I posted photos of a pueo flying here. This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Wildlife’ (see more offerings here) and, in an audacious move, I’m posting photos of the same bird.

The photos were taken along Old Saddle Road. It’s a prime area to see pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owls) and when I drive this road, I’m something of a menace to other cars since I spend a good deal of time looking at the sky rather than the road. When I do spot a pueo I tend to veer suddenly onto the grassy verge. This is OK assuming there’s a grassy verge and not a deep channel caused by water runoff.

The day I saw this bird had been a good day indeed. Many pueo had been spotted, several photographed, and no accidents caused. Nearing the end of the prime spotting area, I noticed a bird flying over a pasture. I bumped onto the grass and stopped just in time to see the pueo disappear over a ridge. As I waited to see if it might reappear, I looked across the road and saw this pueo perched on a fence post directly across from where I parked. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart.

I grabbed my camera, eased the window down, trying to make as little noise as possible, and took a few shots. I needn’t have worried. This pueo seemed quite attached to its spot, perched on a metal fence post. It wasn’t about to move just because someone across the road kept making clicking noises. As cars passed, the bird’s head swiveled to follow their progress, then returned to its surrounds. It kept looking down, sometimes leaning forward with a more intense stare.

Suddenly, the pueo plunged into the grass and disappeared from view. Moments later, it flew up again and landed back on the post. This time it wasn’t alone. Hanging from its beak was a mouse. It wasn’t dead, but its future looked bleak. The pueo juggled it briefly, working it into the right position. Then, in a couple of quick gulps, the mouse disappeared, only the tip of its tail hanging out of the pueo’s mouth. Moments later, that too was gone. The pueo hung around for a while longer before taking off to try its luck hunting from the air.

I was struck by the poise of this large bird, perched on a small metal post, while it scanned its surroundings and ate its meal. Look at those talons gripping the post. Not something I’d want around my head. The same goes for its beak.

I’m easily charmed by cute geckos and awed by giant humpbacks, but there’s a reason for the ‘wild’ in wildlife. It’s a critter eat critter world out there and sometimes it can be almost as dangerous as civilization.

 

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11 thoughts on “Mealtime for a pueo

    • I have a Panasonic Lumix FZ-200 which I like a lot, but is definitely not a serious birder’s camera. My luck here was pulling up directly opposite the pueo, and it not flying off when I arrived.

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