It is the natural way of life when birds go against their own. It may be unsettling for some to witness, but for others – such as keen photographers – it can be a once in a lifetime experience.
Since January this year, a young pearl-spotted owlet has been frequenting our garden and has become quite used to my presence. Recently, early one morning, I was alerted to a commotion at the birdbath. So I grabbed my camera and investigated, only to find that the owlet had pinned a lovebird to the ground by the birdbath!
The hapless lovebird was still feebly flapping its wings when I arrived, but soon gave up the struggle. The owlet kept peering about as if deciding on the next course of action and eventually flew – with the lovebird trailing behind – onto the birdbath.
It then proceeded to fly into a tree a few metres away, perched briefly and flew up into a palm tree before reaching its final destination – our jacaranda tree (which has served as a swift dispersal of the odd lizard, a few other morsels and a few days ago a white-backed mousebird chick!).
Wedging the lovebird into a secure position proved no easy task, and eventually – after much fluttering and hopping about with its prey – the owlet proceeded in no uncertain terms to decapitate the fated lovebird and to swallow its head – beak and all!
It seized the rest of the carcass later that afternoon and thus had a very productive day, all in all.
This, incidentally, is the same pearl-spotted owlet which my rottweiler swallowed… I will never forget the sight of two yellow feet sticking out of either side of its mouth and me galloping after dog and bird – on crutches and moonboot (I had a broken foot since an unfortunate and very clumsy fall down the stairs in January).
I think my voice could be heard in the whole neighbourhood as I screamed for the dog to let go and eventually managed to just about wrestle him down to the ground and prise his mouth open, to have a very wet and bedraggled owl plop to the ground – alive and unhurt!
It squawked very indignantly and flew off into the nearest tree – but has amazingly not packed its bags and left for good. I enjoy it tremendously and will be getting nest boxes soon for him and (my) hornbills.