Feather from a live bird.
Feather whose root shows it came from a live bird. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Identifying Predation of Birds and Fowl

Bird watchers and owners of fowl, such as geese, chickens, and guineas occasionally find dead birds. They may even see an animal feeding or in proximity to the carcass.

The question is, how does one know if the suspect animal killed or was simply feeding on the already dead carcass?

One tip is to carefully check the feathers particularly the root. If the root is smooth as pictured in the photo, then you know the feather was removed while the bird was still warm. If the root has bits of flesh attached the feather came from the bird when it was cold, i.e. dead.

It’s not a perfect test but it may help exonerate a suspected animal.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator and he specializes in wildlife damage sign. His latest book is The Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd. Ed. (2012). It can be purchased from the author or many fine book establishments.

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