Feather Mystery

A massacre of feathers. At first I thought this was probably another pigeon devoured by a hawk.
But these breast feathers are ducky as all get out.
Was totally unfamiliar with these. Rectrices, or tail feathers.
Ah, the green on these secondary wing feathers is big clue.
Turns out to be male Northern Shoveler, of all things. I found the kill site in Green-Wood on a day all the water bodies were iced-over. Northern Shovelers rarely show up in G-W even when the ponds are ice-free. Prospect Park Lake, about a mile away, however, usually has a flotilla of these long-billed birds on it. I wonder if one was intercepted to or from there.

6 Responses to “Feather Mystery”


  1. 1 Charles McAlexander January 29, 2022 at 7:44 am

    Unless it spontaneously exploded we have to assume it was intercepted en route. It would take a peregrine or larger raptor to down the duck, but we can’t tell from the debris field which species had lunch. However, successful capture locations tend to be reused, so a repeat performance is possible. Maybe somebody will get lucky.

  2. 2 Sherry Felix January 29, 2022 at 8:33 am

    Interesting. Your deduction sounds plausible.

  3. 3 Diane D’Arcy January 29, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    Look at City Birder post yesterday and see the Shoveler sitting in a field.

  4. 4 bridge2nature January 30, 2022 at 1:13 am

    Great blog mthew. I need to learn lot actually have not given any time for this even I see and finds the feathers along the way

  5. 5 Monica M January 30, 2022 at 11:28 am

    We see a lot of Coopers and Red Tail hawks picking-up-dinner from our yard. We call it a “feather bomb”. Most of the time the hawk takes his prey to-go, but I’ve seen them sit at the “bomb site” and devour it there, picking-off as many feathers as she can in the process. Not a pretty sight!

  6. 6 Charles McAlexander February 1, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    Not pretty, but impressive. I have watched American Kestrels capture, kill and shuck all kinds of smaller birds. They have a routine they follow for all their prey, even dragonflies! An adept adult can prepare a meal for young in a little over a minute. A beginner can take over ten minutes to even kill the prey species. This can get pretty ugly, but they eventually learn the drill.


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