Dead Bird Quiz: advanced edition

25 10 2012

This quiz is advanced in a dual sense: both these birds are in an advanced state of decomposition/disassembly. This adds a layer of difficulty to the i.d., making this quiz also advanced in terms of the i.d. skill set required. I have my best guesses as to species in mind, but there is a wide margin of uncertainty here. I am curious to see what you, dear readers, can come up with on these two. The first photo, submitted by Jerry Golub of New Jersey, is quite intriguing. This pile of disconnected bird parts presents an intriguing puzzle. Are all of these parts even from the same bird? If not, how many species do we actually have here?

A grisly scene in New Jersey. (photo by Jerry Golub)

The second photo shows a somewhat intact carcass found by Kathy Kelly in Maine. But even so, this carcass is so dessicated that a number of its features are obscured or obliterated. So, challenge issued, Seanetters. Now give a blogger a little help, won’t you?

Weathered carcass in Maine. (photo by K. Kelly)




2 responses

25 10 2012
Wouter van Gestel

This really is a hard challenge! To start with bird 2: The short, thick legs with long toes, the tight connection between sternum and furcula (wishbone) and very long wings show it’s a Pelicaniform, a pelican, gannet or a cormorant. From these I go for cormorant because the furcula is rather narrow and slender. In a gannet it is thicker and wider, and in a brown pelican the furcula is wide as well and the sternum is shorter and wider. If it is from Maine it can be a great or a double-crested cormorant, but I can’t tell them apart from this picture.
For bird 2 I’ll need more documentation, I may get back on it tomorrow.

Wouter van Gestel, Holland

27 10 2012
Wouter van Gestel

I think the first bird may be a non-breeding Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), because of the dark crown and the white cheeks, the uniform grey wings (with a hint of ruddy brown) and the pointy tail feathers.

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