Re: Powerful Owl Behaviour

To: "Alex Zorba" <>, "birding aus" <>
Subject: Re: Powerful Owl Behaviour
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2008 17:06:24 +1000

If rigor had set in, and the possum certainly seems rigid rather than
floppy as a freshly killed animal would be, there wouldn't be any muscular
twitching.  It seems to me that any twitching or movement of the carcass
would have to have a mechanical source and the owl's talons are the only

I know more about dead possums than live owls but it may be that the owl
flexes its talons even when relaxed.



             "Alex Zorba"                                                  
             om>                                                        To 
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             birding-aus-bounc                                          cc 
                                       [Birding-Aus] Re: Powerful Owl      
             04/08/08 04:22 PM         Behaviour                           

Thankyou Russell and David for your replies.

David, Would an animal twitch even with rigor mortis? The possum was
twitching even when the Owl became completely relaxed and closed its eyes.

On Sun, Aug 3, 2008 at 10:38 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> recorded before? Do Possums such as this Ring-tailed sleep in hollows
> 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,
> Alex

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