I would add opossum to the lineup of possible perpetrators......they too favor heads and will make quick work of your chickens.
On Sun, May 31, 2020 at 12:28 PM Jody Enck <jodye...@gmail.com> wrote: > 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. 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