Predator or scavenger?
27th September 2022 at 10:26 pm #40024
I’ve just seen a hedgehog eating a blackbird. The adult male blackbird had been moping around the garden last two days, definitely ill, but was flying a few hours ago. Just seen it splayed with hog on top ripping into it, rocking back and forth. Feathers blowing about the body. By entrance to feeding station I’d stocked with cat food as usual. Whaaa? Grotesque sight. Any similar? Ever? Could it have killed an adult blackbird, even a sick one? Or come across a (very) recent cat kill and chased off the cat? Or come across a conveniently deceased blackbird right by the station?28th September 2022 at 7:05 pm #40041
Yes, our cute hedgehogs can be predators as well. They are opportunists so that if a sickly bird attracts their attention, they could kill it. Jumping, etc. would probably be unrealistic, so it’s likely that any bird would have become past flying. It seems most likely that it would eat it pretty much where it found it – i.e. not take it to their normal feeding area as cats might do. I know it is quite a shocking sight as we tend to think of hedgehogs as being more benign. But as with everything related to nature and wildlife the hedgehog may have had young ones back in a nest, or need to build itself up after raising hoglets, etc. prior to hibernation.
I doubt whether a hedgehog would have stolen it from a cat – I would have thought the cat would have picked it up and carried it off, if necessary. Although never say never! However, a cat might have killed it and left it – as cats sometimes do, or it could have died (of whatever was wrong with it) before the hedgehog found it. They will scavenge as well.
There have been reports previously on the forum of a sickly pigeon being killed by a hedgehog. The consolation is that if a bird becomes so unwell that a hedgehog could catch and kill it, if it hadn’t been caught it may have suffered a more lingering and potentially painful death.
I also have experience, myself, of a hedgehog catching and eating a young fledgling. Again I suspect it was unwell and probably out of it’s nest sooner than it should have been – it shouldn’t have been on the ground. I heard a terrible noise and dashed out thinking something might be attacking a hedgehog, but it turned out to be the other way round. But, as said, quite shocking which was added to by the noise.
Hopefully you don’t think too hardly of the hedgehog – a clever hedgehog taking advantage of what it was presented with, even if shocking for us – to start with. But thanks for sharing the episode with us. It’s always interesting to hear what our prickly friends are getting up to!
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