Friday, 6 May 2011

C.S.I.: Ornithology

The past week has been a slow one for both birding and blogging as school has been busy and various members of the family have been fighting colds.  On the bright side we're all doing much better than the bird below, whose remains I found earlier in the week in Queen's Park.

I was looking for a reported Varied Thrush but all I found was a whole bunch of American Robins that frustratingly kept looking exactly like Varied Thrushes out of the corner of my eye.  There were also Kinglets calling (and responding to an iPhone recording - hurrah for iBird!) but remaining firmly out of view - disappointing as I'm not counting heard birds for my Alberta list.  Anyway, the mess of feathers was an interesting find and here are a couple more pictures.  See if you can figure out what happened, I'll explain my theory, and then you can let me know what you think in the comments.

This is the branch above and slightly to the left of the path

My thought was that the feathers were in a relatively neat circle suggesting that they had been dropped from the low perch above the remains.  Looking at that perch closer up, there was some blood as well as other tissue.  Perhaps more tellingly, there was some bird faecal matter and clear scratch marks, which seemed too small for a hawk-sized bird but much too large for a merlin.  The creek at the north end of the cemetery, where I found this scene, has tall deciduous trees above a narrow gully lined with spruce trees - perfect hunting territory for an accipiter.

With those observations in mind, I think the bird was a Rock Pigeon killed by a Sharp-shinned Hawk, which enjoyed it's meal on the low branch across the trail.  That's obviously just a bit of harmless speculation but I think it's fun to try a little bit of nature interpretation.

In any case, it's clear that this bird met with a "fowl" end.

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