Noisy Midnight Snack

Hey, Matthew:

Why don't owls eat mockingbirds that are singing all night?

-- Bob, telephonically

We're now past the mockingbird all-night-warbling season, since the new crop of mockers is off the nest and composing next spring's annoying trills and screeches. The most reliable way to shut them up is just to wait it out. But owls might work. They're raptors, like hawks and falcons and eagles, so a midnight snack of mockingbird isn't out of the question. And since most owl species hunt at night, a whistling, cackling, yodeling feather sandwich on a high, exposed perch would seem like a sitting duck, as it were. But given their choice, owls prefer to graze at the rodent, reptile, and small-animal buffet. Owls' strong feet and sharp beaks and talons subdue them easily. Taking on a feisty, territorial male mockingbird that's going to fight back is another question. If an owl doesn't have to work that hard for dinner, he won't. But mockingbird is on the list of owl food, so owls can glide in silently and catch a mocker by surprise. I guess they just don't do it in your neighborhood.

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