There ain’t no laws in the wild. Owls are incredibly skilled hunters, much in part to their incredible stealth. They are able to fly without essentially making a sound, and have great vision at night, meaning they are capable of sneaking up and snagging prey with relative ease.
However, owls are still susceptible to attacks from other birds, and this video is the perfect example. In this wild scene, you can see a short-eared owl flying in mid-air, latching onto a rodent it had just caught. Next thing you know, a northern harrier approaches the owl, seemingly out of nowhere and attacks in mid-air.
During the attack, the owl drops the rodent, and as the small creature begins to fall, the harrier is able to snatch it, and take it for its own without the vole every hitting the ground. The tactic the northern harrier was using is known as Kleptoparasitism, where a predator steals another predator’s prey.
The caption to the video explains:
“In this phenomenal footage, a northern harrier catches up to a short-earred owl, knocks the small rodent (vole) she was carrying out of her grasp, and catches it’s rapidly descending prize before it meets terra firma.
The mid-air catch marks the third time this tiny rodent has changed talons. The pair of owls that made the initial kill were robbed by the larger owl, who eventually gets mugged by the nimble harrier in spectacular fashion.
Kleptoparasitism is the technical term for “kill stealing” in the wild. Kleptoparasitic animals outsource the hard work (stalking, chasing, killing prey) by opportunistically theiving the kills of more fortunate/capable predators once the heavy lifting has been done.”