By John Henricksson
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Extra resources for A Wild Neighborhood
It fed for about fifteen minutes, then flew away carrying the leftovers in its talons. Bill and Mary canoed over to the spot immediately and found nothing but a few feathers, a foot, and a battered head. 30 FIRST C I T I Z E N OF MINNESOTA We came a little later, and the Hatfields were curious about why they had seen neither of the remaining loons since the attack. Julie and I decided to canoe the bay's shoreline just in case we might find the nest or some evidence of hiding loons. We pushed the canoe along the brush and mud of the west end where the creek comes in and then down the heavily wooded south shore under the cliffs.
I have never seen a marten eat its prey in the tree. Usually it carries it down to the ground and takes it to the den if it has kits, or finds concealment where it can eat under cover. It seems very nervous when it is out in the open, standing on its hind legs and running in place like a waiting jogger, its head and upper body 36 H U N T E R OF THE H I G H PLACES swiveling and feinting, watching the heights and the ground around it. A barred owl or a rough-legged hawk is sometimes watching and could score a rare double if the marten weren't vigilant.
The merganser (the sawbill) has a long, tubular, serrated bill that is ideally adapted to catching fish, and this makes it a competitor to the loon and its chicks for food. When this competition threatens its food supply, the loon goes into its U-boat mode. With its swim bladder slightly deflated, it stays offshore, out from the merganser fleet, its head barely visible above the water and its bill angled upward like a periscope. When it zeros in on the group of merganser chicks feeding in the rocks near shore, it submerges, kicks forward, and speeds underwater toward its target.
A Wild Neighborhood by John Henricksson