Dead Birds: Part 2

It has been a few months since I have published my previous photos of dead birds in the earlier post. Over the succeeding months I encountered three interesting specimens, which I decided to share in this post.

Bird 1: Spanish Seagull in Tabarca, Alicante, Spain

The corpse of a seagull found on a beach of pebbles in Tabarca, Spain



I have encountered this dead seagull during my holiday in Spain in late February, as I was walking along the beach with my friends. This beach was part of the Tabarca island, located very close to Alicante. The views there were amazing and it was one of the best holidays I ever had. That's why a month later I came back to Alicante, and with all that travelling and chaos at my workplace I haven't had time to write many new posts. 

But going back to the theme of this post, surely, dead seagulls must be a very common sight in places close to the sea and other water reservoirs. But while most people will look at cadavers like this with disgust and walk away, I decided to take the above picture and look at this specimen more closely. It may be a dead seagull, but every dead seagull surely has its own story. As can be seen from the image of this specimen, it must have died quite some time before I discovered it, since there was no fresh blood present, its eye was missing and its appearance was rather "dried up". While the island of Tabarca is full of cats, it is unlikely that this bird was killed by one of them since its body appears free of injuries and whole, with almost all its fathers present. Moreover, it is unlikely that the seagull died of sickness, since sick birds have a tendency to withdraw into private places, far from other birds, and this specimen was found almost in the centre of the beach. Therefore, its cause of death must have been something else. 

According to many recent articles, sea pollution, such as plastic waste, is a common cause of the deaths of thousands of birds. Sometimes they consume contaminated food sources, leading to them choking on garbage, such as plastic, or dying of disease caused by the contamination, including oil spills. This link shows some rather dramatic examples of images showing the harm that pollution can do to animals. Unfortunately, not much information is available on the exact causes of death of seagulls, such as the one on the image above. Hence, it is possible that pollution might have contributed to its death, but how exactly it died will remain a mystery.

Bird 2: Likely a young Blackbird & its decay over time

The dead bird (presumably a blackbird) was found close to my workplace in north Bristol, UK.


I have found the above bird one day when I was walking from work toward a bus stop in north of Bristol. It was discovered in a state of decay, with its feathers slightly discoloured, its eyes missing, and visible worm activity taking place. From that it was easy to assume it was killed several days earlier. The location was right next to a cycle path, and also very close to a busy motorway, so it is most likely that the bird might have been crushed by a bicycle in that same location, or hit by a car earlier, and managed to fly away to the place of its death. However, looking at the photograph, the first scenario is more likely, since the back part of its body is visibly mangled and its legs were twisted at an unnatural angle. Another possible scenario would be that the bird was injured, and taking rest on the path, when a cyclist trampled it in a hurry. 

The next image, below, was taken 2 weeks after the first photo, as the bird still remained where it was, without anyone cleaning it up. It can be seen that its body was flattened further, again most likely by a passing cyclist. The decay is even more obvious on the image, with the wing feathers being discoloured, and the body being mangled to a state where it is impossible to tell where its parts were located originally. It is clear that the crushing would have speeded up the process of decay.

The dead blackbird, after more than 2 weeks of decay


Bird 3: Fresh Roadkill Pigeon

The disembowelled pigeon on the photograph must have been hit by a car very recently, since no decay is present.



I discovered the above dead pigeon when I was practising driving on a quiet road in Bristol (I swear it wasn't me who killed him!). As I saw it, I pulled over and quickly got out of the car to look at it and take the picture. It was likely only just killed in that hour or so, possibly by another practising driver, since there were many of us there at the time, as it is a very popular spot for learning. It can be seen on the photograph how recent its death was, as the blood still wasn't completely dry, and there was no sign of decay, with its eyeball, and even intestines still present. Speaking of the intestines, they can be seen in the left top corner of the photograph. The bird clearly must have suffered a strong blow to its stomach, which disembowelled and killed it quickly. I did not turn the corpse around, since there were people nearby, including my friend who was helping me practice driving, and I did not want to be perceived as a complete nutcase (even though I probably still come pretty close to that description). However, its positioning as seen on the photograph, the disembowelment, and the surrounding feathers were enough to tell what had happened to the pigeon. If only this could teach the other pigeons a lesson not to get so close to the road... 

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