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Which birds of prey bite the heads off their victims?


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#1 PONYRCR

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 11:23 AM

Do all birds of prey bite the heads off their victims?  Or is this an owl technique?

For the second time I've found the remains of an animal in my backyard.  This time it was a half eaten rat with it's head not to far from the body.  Last time it was a mourning dove also with it's head not to far from the body.

Both times the remains were in the same area of my backyard.

I suspect some bird of prey/owl uses the block wall that seperates my yard from my neighbors as it's eating spot. 

Last year I strongly suspected a great horned owl had attacked my neighbors cat.  Lots of pulled out fur and a bloody talon print were found.  My cat came in with blood on his face.  He had no injuries.  We think he witnessed the attack. Afterwards he was very weary about being in the backyard. He would duck and crouch when he heard the crows or other bird sounds. We later confirmed with our neighbor that their cat had suffered a laceration on a leg.

From time to time my scrub jays get very agitated about something hiding in my neighbors bamboo.  I can never find what has them so upset.  Grrr! 

I'm just curious as to what is using my yard as it's eating place?  Anyone have experience with birds of prey or owls, and what they leave behind of their victims?

I don't think it's my cat leaving parts behind.  The parts I find have a pulled apart look to them not a chewed up look.



#2 thekiwi

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 05:41 PM

PONYRCR:

Do all birds of prey bite the heads off their victims?  Or is this an owl technique?

For the second time I've found the remains of an animal in my backyard.  This time it was a half eaten rat with it's head not to far from the body.  Last time it was a mourning dove also with it's head not to far from the body.

Both times the remains were in the same area of my backyard.

I suspect some bird of prey/owl uses the block wall that seperates my yard from my neighbors as it's eating spot. 

Last year I strongly suspected a great horned owl had attacked my neighbors cat.  Lots of pulled out fur and a bloody talon print were found.  My cat came in with blood on his face.  He had no injuries.  We think he witnessed the attack. Afterwards he was very weary about being in the backyard. He would duck and crouch when he heard the crows or other bird sounds. We later confirmed with our neighbor that their cat had suffered a laceration on a leg.

From time to time my scrub jays get very agitated about something hiding in my neighbors bamboo.  I can never find what has them so upset.  Grrr! 

I'm just curious as to what is using my yard as it's eating place?  Anyone have experience with birds of prey or owls, and what they leave behind of their victims?

I don't think it's my cat leaving parts behind.  The parts I find have a pulled apart look to them not a chewed up look.

I can't give you an Answer but it does pose an interesting question. Think about this one , on the island of Rum off the coast of Scotland the Red Deer kill seabird chicks and eat just there heads the common thought on this bizarre practice is there is a lacking of minerals on the Island that, isn't enough to grow there Antlers so they eat the heads for the minerals



#3 natureboy

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 06:14 PM

different raptors have different techniques for killing prey.  most hawks use their feet, i.e. - they just get a good grip and squeeze.  falcons use their beak to bite the neck of their prey in order to kill it.  so, i'd say it was a falcon

owls to not bite pieces off of their prey.  they simply swallow it whole most of the time.  sometimes with something large they will have to eat it more "piece-by-piece".  but with small prey like doves, it was probably a falcon if the head was bitten off.



#4 luv2bird

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 09:29 PM

I think you have a strong case for a feral cat or fox likely visiting your neighborhood and yard. I don't think it was a Raptor because their normal behavior would be to rapidly eat/swallow prey whole, perch/roost, then regurge pellets of bones and feathers. The jay behavior can be caused from a squirrel or a mockingbird being near their cache or nesting territory looking for eggs.



#5 Bird Brain

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 11:22 PM

luv2bird:

I think you have a strong case for a feral cat or fox likely visiting your neighborhood and yard. I don't think it was a Raptor because their normal behavior would be to rapidly eat/swallow prey whole, perch/roost, then regurge pellets of bones and feathers. The jay behavior can be caused from a squirrel or a mockingbird being near their cache or nesting territory looking for eggs.

I agree, the most likely culprit being a house cat. I have observed several times a bird, rat, or rabbit that had been caught by a cat and had nothing but its head eaten off. As for the OP's cat coming in with a bloody face but no apparent wounds..........hmmmm??...



#6 zoutedrop

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:05 PM

I am in the raptor camp for two reasons.  I had a sharp-shinned drop a headless meal about twenty feet from me.  I also took apart barn owl pellets and found entire skulls.


#7 luv2bird

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 05:10 PM

I guess I have a different POV. I pick up too many half eaten birds, mice, lizards and such from cats, dogs, and fox than from raptors. I've had accipiters come through and I've startled them and they drop their prey. But face it - generally raptors gorge out!They don't leave ANYTHING behind on the ground EVEN feathers unless it's under an owl's nest and it's their regurge. I've seen partially eaten birds and squirrels in trees though. 

#8 zoutedrop

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 06:20 PM

Unless the activity was actually seen, as was in my case, you couldn't rule anything out. 

Just thought you might be interested in a Google search I did.  Bottom line, raptors do rip the heads off their victims (not exclusively) and with enough frequency to be noted by field studies. 

I posted a picture of a headless carcass in the That's Odd thread. 

Attached Files



#9 luv2bird

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 03:51 PM

Matt - no harm no foul but if you want to be scientific about making your point then be scientific. Be truthful in your analysis and limit the experimental group. Using Google is one way but you can search using a criteria for the raptor population in AZ, because behaviors of the AZ raptor population "biting heads off prey" may vary from those of the OP's raptor group. I'd be more fascinated if you found the same results using that method.

Experimental group 1=El Segundo, CA

Experimental group 2= AZ

 



#10 PONYRCR

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 05:54 AM

I live in suberbia so fox can be ruled out.  I've seen them behind LAX but I've never seen them around my neighborhood or in my backyard.

House cat is a possibility but I've seen my cat eat mice and such and he eats them whole.  I've never seen him bite the heads off his prey.  But then that doesn't mean it's impossible.

I guess this will go down as a mystery unless I can come upon whatever it is (raptor or cat) in the act.






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