[Tweeters] Mr. Towhee meets a weasel

Rob Sandelin nwnature1 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 23 19:55:54 PDT 2015

For as long as I have lived here we have had towhees nesting in the yard.
Right now the yard is full of youngsters and their somewhat anxious parents,
trying to feed them still even though each brood is pretty scattered. I
have a basement window that looks out at ground level right beneath the
large cedar tree and Salmonberry tangle and looking out that window is like
laying on the ground. I can see right into the shrub tangle. This is a
favorite hangout of the towhees and today as I looked out the window there
was an odd shape which turned out to be a weasel. The weasel had its front
paws and upper body on a log and it was standing very still, which is
surprising for a weasel. There were two juvenile towhees about 3 feet away
from the weasel, who very slowly slithered over the log, clearly in hunting
mode. Suddenly out of nowhere an adult male towhee ran into the scene from
stage left and the two youngsters flew up into the lower branches of the
cedar. The Weasel charged at the adult who sort of bounced up into the
salmonberry and just as the weasel leapt, bounced again into the tree. The
weasel scrambled up a vine maple, as agile as any squirrel, but by the time
it got to where the bird had been, it was airborne across the yard. This all
happened in about 5 seconds. I ran out the back door hoping to see more but
the weasel was well up and climbing into the cedar. I had never thought much
about weasels in trees but this one was very adept and ran along a
horizontal branch, jumped a 3 feet gap onto the gazebo, following the route
the squirrels usually take. It stopped briefly at the feeder, as if making a
plan, but then continued down the other side and into the yard. By this time
4-5 robins had gathered and were alarm calling, a couple towhees added to
the noise and shortly a Steller's Jay joined the fun. The weasel disappeared
into the woods, followed by an entourage of screaming birds.

Rob Sandelin

Naturalist, Writer, mostly retired teacher

Snohomish County

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