Dead Bird Quiz Plus…answer?

27 03 2009
Could the perpetrator have been a Peregrine?

Could the perpetrator have been a Peregrine?

Well, as Jenette pointed out, this one is both intriguing and grisly. The bird pictured in yesterday’s post is indeed a female Common Goldeneye. Usually our volunteers come across relatively intact carcasses with perhaps a couple of smallish holes due to gull scavenging. Alternatively, of course, many of you find nothing but wings and a well cleaned off keel. This bird seems to be something between those extremes, and the carcass appears quite fresh, as if the perpetrator of this deed had been interrupted mid-meal.

Certainly Peregrine falcons are known to skin their kills and will often even leave the skin over the breast pulled up over the prey’s head. They will then tear the breast muscle away from the sternum as they eat. These bird connoisseurs of the raptor world must remain on our suspect list.

I put this question to bird expert Dr. Richard Veit who had this to say after viewing the photos, “I’ve never seen anything quite like this – it looks like the bird has been skinned.  Peregrine sounds like a possibility. Seals in the Antarctic do something like this with penguins, so I would offer the possibility of a gray seal, but that is just a guess.”

Or perhaps the fierce Gray Seal?

Or perhaps the fierce Gray Seal?



Indeed, we have had volunteers reporting seals occasionally taking eiders and scoters off the surface of the ocean, so our Goldeneye may have fallen victim to just such an event and then washed ashore once the satiated seal abandoned the carcass. 

Of course, we cannot know for sure, but that is the nature of CSI: SEANET. All of you volunteers keep us on our toes with your finds and observations from the field, so keep them coming! We even welcome your photos of things other than dead birds, remarkably, so don’t be shy. You too could attain worldwide fame by being featured on the SEANET blog.



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