Monday, November 12, 2012

The Mystery of the Mouse in the Tree

While doing a wildlife survey this weekend, we happened upon a mouse - its head sticking out from a hole in a tree. Was it just the head? Was it still alive (seemed unlikely)? What was it doing there? It was about 9 feet up in the trunk of the tree with no branches nearby. We reached up with a stick and managed to pry it part of the way out - it was whole, definitely dead, and wedged in there pretty tightly.

The wood around the mouse appeared to be recently gouged. It was difficult to see it clearly, but it looked like the marks might have been made by a beak. If it was a beak, that leaves us with the question of what bird could and would do such a thing? The only bird we came up with that would seem likely to have the capability of doing it would be a woodpecker (needing both the ability to comfortably hang on the side of a tree and dig into solid wood), but why would it do so? What other possibilities might we not have considered?