Powerful Owl Behaviour

To: birding birding-aus <>
Subject: Powerful Owl Behaviour
From: Russell Woodford <>
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2008 16:05:54 +1000
Hi Alex

What a fantastic shot!  Thanks for sharing it with us.
I hope list members take the time to click the link you supplied because it really is worth it.

Some of the comments on AustralasiaForum give a few clues, but pose just as many further questions. Yes, POs sometimes hunt in daylight. I don't think ringtails wander about much in the light, though, and it seems like a fairly bright day. Perhaps something disturbed the possum and made it leave its hole. Or maybe it wasn't still twitching, but was being moved by the owl, and was part of the previous night's catch?

We do tend to ascribe human qualities to owls, such as wisdom and intelligence, but really they are just superb hunters with extraordinary sight and hearing. My guess is that he was looking at you to decide whether to keep the possum, or to ditch it in favour of you :-)

Hopefully some of the owl experts on b-aus will shed more light on this (no pun intended). I'm a complete owl novice - despite seeing most of the Aussie species, and a couple of PO, I have never managed to find the "dead cert" one in Fitzroy Gardens (Melbourne) ...

Russell Woodford
Birding-Aus List Owner

Geelong   Victoria   Australia

On 04/08/2008, at 3:38 PM, Alex Zorba wrote:

Hi all,

I recently observed a PO in Brisbane and I have some questions about the
circumstances/possibilities of this encounter.

The bird dropped to the ground as I turned around, 30 seconds passed and he
flew up to his perch holding prey. I didn't see him catch or kill the
possum. The possum had been decapitated and there was no blood on the bird
or perch. As I was watching and photographing the Owl the Possum would
twitch. When it twitched the Owl would look down at it and appear to press
harder on the Possum. The time was 2:55PM.

As PO's hunt at night, this raises the question of why it was twitching. How long does it take for Rigor mortis to set in? Is it possible that the birds talon was hitting a nerve in the possum? Has daylight hunting been recorded before? Do Possums such as this Ring-tailed sleep in hollows during the day?
or just somewhere in a tree? What would the estimated TOD be?

There is more of the story and an image here;

I hope someone can shed some light on the subject.

Thanks in advance,

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