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Monday, January 30, 2012

Feathers and feet

On 29 January 2012, Eric encountered a bird kill along the side of the trail.  It must have been pretty recent, as most of the bird was still visible.  Below are pictures of the wings and feet.  Can you guess the species?

 Above, note the sparse feathering extending all the way to the talons!

Above, a vole's perspective.

Ready for the answer?  Here's one more clue (below).  Note that the leading edge of the outermost primary (flight feather) is distinctly fringed.  This trait is characteristic of one group of hunting birds.  The fringe is involved in allowing the birds to fly silently, breaking up the air as it flows across the front of the wing.

These are the feathers and feet of a Barn Owl (Tyto alba).  Evidence at the scene suggests that it might have been eaten by a Great Horned Owl.  Six species of owls have been documented on Bodega Head.  [We haven't been graced with the presence of a Snowy Owl this winter, as has much of the rest of the country, but it's always worth hoping!]

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