Incredible Viral ‘Weaselpecker’ Photo Isn’t What You Think (PHOTO)

weasel woodpecker

You're going to see this photo and think it's a hoax. But it's for real. Photographer Martin Le-May caught a weasel "riding" on the back of a woodpecker in flight. The photo has gone viral as "#weaselpecker." But this is no joy ride. 


Birder and wildlife photographer Jason Ward tweeted out Le-May's incredible shot.

It looks like a whimsical moment straight out of a child's story book. But it's actually a life and death moment between a predator and it's potential prey. That weasel wasn't trying to get somewhere. It was trying to kill the woodpecker for a meal.

Le-May told Bird Guides how the weasel-woodpecker ride played out. He and his wife, Ann, had gone for a walk around Hornchurch Country Park in Essex, England hoping to catch sight of a green woodpecker.

As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw that flash of green. So hurriedly I pointed out to Ann the bird and it settled into the grass behind a couple of small silver birch trees. Both of us trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface. Lots of wing flapping showing that gloriously yellow/white colour interspersed with the flash of red head feathers. Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.

The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst. I guess our presence, maybe 25 metres away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left. Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.

The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.

It's amazing that Le-May and his wife happened to be there, right at that moment, just as all of this was playing out. But was it luck, or was it because they were paying attention? It's amazing what you'll see when you unplug, open your eyes, and observe the world around you.

But yes, it is lucky Le-May also had his camera with him.

You may be happy and relieved for that woodpecker. But I don't know ... I'm a little sad for the weasel. It has to eat, too! We humans have a choice, but some animals are carnivores that must eat other animals to survive. It's the sobering reality of the animal world.

I'm wishing the weasel better luck in the future, perhaps with some less photogenic prey.

Have you ever witnessed one animal hunting another? 


Image by Martin Le-May via Jason Ward/Twitter

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