I walk for exercise in a local cemetery and yesterday I was taking a nap in my car with the windows open. I was awakened by a ruckus in a tree not ten feet outside my window.
When I sat up, I saw a squirrel at the base of the tree, with a baby robin in its paws. To my surprise, the squirrel began to eat the robin.
During this episode, one or two grown robins (the parents, I presume) strafed the squirrel many times. One of them even perched on my side mirror after one of these attacks, but on seeing me, left quickly to a place it wouldn’t feel threatened. You’ll see the many attacks in the video. I’m not sure if they’re pecking or clawing at the squirrel. (“It all happened so fast”, as they say.)
You’ll hear many birds throughout the cemetery. There are some Black-Billed Magpies among in the background, but the repeating single-pulse chirp you hear in the foreground are the robins.
I got over 8 minutes of video before I got tired of shooting it. After I had turned off the camera, the squirrel darted across the cemetery, carrying the bird with it, and being pursued by the two adult robins.
Like so many others, I had believed squirrels to be herbivores, but after turning off the camera—and before the squirrel’s exit from the scene—I was able to look up an article that says it isn’t so.
Afterward, I examined the scene and discovered a second baby robin (picture here). I assume that the squirrel had also thrown it out of the nest in the initial ruckus that woke me up.
In my youth I once heard a thud and an oomf in the woods behind my house, and looking up, saw that a squirrel had fallen from a high limb—ostensibly because of the large white oak snake that was constricting it to death. I remember attempting to separate the two out of sympathy for the squirrel. (And to my surprise, I can’t remember how that turned out. Perhaps it’ll come back to me!) Regardless, though, if I should ever find the squirrel being the victim again someday, I think I’ll be less inclined to come to the rescue. Something about watching eight minutes of the squirrel eat the robin’s head off—starting with the beak—seems to have altered my outlook on squirrels somewhat.
NOTE: Two days after writing this piece, I noticed another ruckus in another tree (about 3 or 4 trees down from the first), and once again found a squirrel eating a baby robin–this time from the nest in the first crook of the tree. I commiserate with the robins as I pass by them on my walk, and it seems they are comfortable with me being there.