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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Feather puzzle

While exploring the dunes on 16 January 2012, I encountered several piles of bird feathers.  Most of them looked like this.  Can you guess which species they belong to?  (Spoiler alert: My suspicion is below the image.)

If you're still puzzling over them, here are two more scans, showing the wing feathers aligned -- one from above (upper surface) and the other from below (second image).

I suspect these feathers belong to a Varied Thrush.  Visualize the wing patterns -- strong tawny-colored stripes and wing bars above and a white band below.  If you're not familiar with Varied Thrushes, you can see images and read more about them (and listen to them!) here at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

(Note that the long feathers with white tips are tail feathers.)

It's a little puzzling, because I've never seen a Varied Thrush in the Bodega Dunes.  They're more typically associated with forests.  It's likely that a predator caught and then ate them in the dunes leaving the feathers behind -- perhaps it was a raptor, such as a falcon or an owl?  But the question remains, where did the predator capture them?  Where are the closest thrushes?  Or could they have been caught while flying over during migration?

I would have had a more difficult time identifying these feathers if Peter Connors hadn't shown me a few of the same type of feathers the day before I encountered these!  He discovered them at Salt Point.

1 comment:

Romie said...

Nothing like a good mystery!