Monday, April 26, 2010


Earlier this month, Steph and I took a stroll along the strip of sand on the north shore of the neck of Presque Isle Park. First, we found what was left of a ring-billed gull, complete with a couple of sets of crow tracks meandering toward it:

April Gull II

All that remained were the surprisingly spotless wings, connected to a picked-clean breastbone. The sun was low in the sky but extremely bright, which made picture-taking rather tough, especially when my shadow kept creeping into the frame. The sun did, however, provide for some brilliant backlighting on the bones:

April Gull V

The second find of the evening was the wing of a northern flicker. The feathers were very beautiful but the yellows were impossible to photograph accurately! They were more of a pure yellow than the orangey-yellow that shows in the photo. In this case, I wish I could have photographed it on a cloudy day.

April Flicker III

Often, the wings are the only bird remains that we find. Predators know that there is little meat to be had on the wings, so they leave them behind; mammalian and bird scavengers know this, as well. It is up to the smaller scavengers -- the insects and microbes -- to complete the process of decay.

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