Monday, 14 January 2013

Is it a Rat or a Mouse?

The bird is an American Kestrel. I was on a lovely New Year's Day drive with my husband along back roads through the county when I spotted it holding on to what I am sure was a delicious treat for its lunch.

The American Kestrel did not like our intrusion even though we had turned off the truck and sat there to watch. He must have been a shy eater. So what did he plan to dine on that day?

I did some research to figure out what type of rodent it dropped and then so quickly swooped down to retrieve.  The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. It ranges from 5-11 inches with a wingspan of 20-24 inches and weighs about 3 ounces.

Mice reach the length of 3 inches with their tails being as long as their bodies.  Voles grow to 9 inches and resemble mice but with a stouter body and a shorter hairy tail.  A rat can grow to over 11 inches and its tail is also as long as its body.  I knew it couldn't be a mole because the feet didn't match.

On that information go to the top photograph and compare the relative size of the rodent to that of the falcon.  
Is it a Rat, Mouse or Vole? 

The rodent is at least half its size. Adult mice are only 3-4 inches long and both the mouse and rat have tails as long as their bodies.  My guess would be that our falcon has got himself a vole. Do you agree?