Hi Gary and all, So sorry you came upon this scene. However, it definitely does not sound like a shooting incident. As a duck hunter myself, I will say that you would need to be within 5 or 6 feet (maybe less) in order to take the head off a duck via a shot. At even 10-12 feet, the shotgun pellets start spreading out enough that it would be virtually impossible for the duck to lose its head. Great Horned Owls can and do take heads off of birds (notoriously off of pheasants), but multiple birds having similar fates does suggest a mustelid, as others have mentioned.
Jody Jody W. Enck, PhD Conservation Social Scientist, and Founder of the Sister Bird Club Network 607-379-5940 On Sun, May 31, 2020 at 10:08 AM Gary Kohlenberg <jg...@cornell.edu> wrote: > Saturday I walked with my daughter down Shindagin Hollow Rd., in the State > Forest, to the intersection with Gulf Creek Rd. for exercise, fun and to > show her the area. It was very birdy and beautiful as usual especially the > beaver pond at the bottom of the hill. This place always reminds me of the > Adirondacks and is a favorite of mine. > > There was a surprising amount of traffic on Shindagin Rd. both cars and > mountain bikers savoring the nice day. Some out of state plates on cars of > dozens parked at the intersection and FLT crossing. I was reminded how > popular this area is and how much we need wild areas during a pandemic. > > We were amazed at how many Red Newts were crossing the road. Some didn’t > make it unharmed, but most of them did. I learned about their life cycle, > that they are toxic, but contain off the charts cuteness. We tried to help > a couple on the journey, but they are very independent minded and don’t > need any intervention. > > We noticed a dead bird in the pond by the outflow pipe under the road; a > dead male Mallard. Kayla thought it quite interesting and checked to find > it had no head. I thought that was weird, but I have seen it before, and > guessed maybe an owl had decapitated it. I’m not actually positive owls > would or could do this, but seem to remember some discussion about this. If > anyone knows if it can be a thing please enlighten me. > > I scanned the pond and saw movement which was another male Mallard > struggling in the water. His body floated with the head hanging underwater > unable to lift it up. He may have had a broken neck. I wasn’t able to reach > the poor guy to end his misery which made me sad. More scanning found a > third male Mallard floating in the pond dead. I didn’t see any more, but > there could have been one in the grass. Three seems like a typical total > for this small water to hold on any particular day. > > My hypothesis is that they were all shot on the water with a shotgun. To > cleanly decapitate a bird the shot would have to be at very close range. > The other birds could have all been hit with the same shot if they had been > swimming very together. This water is very small and birds not hit would > have flown and probably circled around. It’s not likely they would have > been shot in the air and fallen back into this small area. > > This poaching event is very disturbing and we had another event like this > in the same general area. I’m thinking of the eagle shooting over bait. No > hunter would shoot birds in a barrel or sitting on the water even in > season. In my opinion this is just criminal at any time. > > We all have bigger social troubles overall, but felt compelled to document > this as a complete view of birding in the finger lakes. The little things > still go on. > > Happier birding today, > > Gary > > > > > > > > > -- > > Cayugabirds-L List Info: > http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME > http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES > http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm > > ARCHIVES: > 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html > 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds > 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html > > Please submit your observations to eBird: > http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ > > -- -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --