Playing possum


Being both a birder and an apartment dweller, I couldn’t have been more pleased then to find a location with a small wetlands facing my deck. During the past year I’ve counted over 50 species and have observed numerous wildlife dramas at this tiny oasis.

Early one morning last December I witnessed a most peculiar site. Just at the waters edge I spotted a red-tailed hawk it’s sharp talons firmly grasping a male Mallard. Oddly the hawk wasn’t attempting to carry his prize off nor did he seem ready to tear into it, he just stood there looking like “now what”?
Want to get a closer look, I dashed inside for my scope. Focusing on the events below I saw the hawk had moved off still eyeing his catch with the same confused look. The mallard for his part was still “playing possum”!

After 20 minutes of patiently watching the unchanging view, I decided to go inside when abruptly the Mallard moved.
He pulled his head from its tucked position, tipped himself upright and backpedaled into the water his eyes never leaving the hawk.
Eyeing the hawk for a few moments longer, the duck simply turned around and swim upstream apparently unharmed.
The Red-tailed too left a few minutes later in search perhaps of smaller prey something that can’t just get up and sail away.

By Joanna linsley-Poe
Article Copyright 1998 all rights reserved
Photos copyright by Wikipedia


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