Thursday, February 18, 2016

Feathers of Blood

Robin Feather with Blood, Pittsburgh, 2016

The other day as we were leaving the yard to take the dog for a walk, we came upon a death scene where, it appeared a small hawk had captured and eaten a robin.  There are significant differences in how birds of prey eat their quarry versus say, a cat.  Most significantly, the hawk will  immediately pluck the kill and eat it on the spot, creating a downy patch, and if there's snow on the ground, you can usually find spots where the hawk's wings brushed over the snow.  It's beautiful, if brutal, but that's nature.  The only thing left at this kill site were the feathers and the beak, all else was gone, presumably consumed.  I pocketed the beak, which had a single under feather clinging to it.  Upon close inspection with the microscope, tiny droplets of blood emerged within the barbules.

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