January 06, 2010

CSI: Birdfeeder

Listen up, team, here is what we know so far.

1. No bloodstains were seen on the lower sunflower-seed feeder on Monday, Jan. 4.

2. When the feeder's owner let his dogs out about 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 5, he reports there was a little "commotion." Unfortunately, he is a coffee addict and was busy preparing his morning fix, so we don't have a eyewitness account.

3. We'll need a lab report. Bird blood or mammal blood?

4. One dog was located near the house about 8:45 a.m. and taken for a walk. The other was located about 9:15 a.m. at a neighboring house, chewing on a strip of elk hide. It's my gut feeling that the elk hide has nothing to do with our case, but check it anyway.

5. The feeder in question is about 15 yards from the house. When the owner's wife, a participant in Project Feeder Watch, scanned it with her binocular about 10:30 a.m., she saw the blood splashes.

Further blood drops were reported on the snow under the feeder in a semi-circular pattern.

6. The reporting party says he found a Steller's jay breast feather about eight yards from the feeder that morning. Again, gut feeling, there may be no connection. Jays drop feathers all the time. Still, it might be something.

7. This is interesting. On Monday the 4th, a squirrel was electrocuted on power lines just a few yards from the feeder. The death was ruled a suicide, but maybe we should take another look at that one too.

Maybe we have a serial killer stalking squirrels--if the lab report shows mammal blood, that is. Apparently this feeder is a favorite squirrel hangout.

8. All right, then. I want your preliminary reports in 24 hours.


Isaac said...

Ooooh. I'm intrigued. I'm gonna sick a crack team of investigators on this one and cross post to my blog if you don't mind...I'll get back to you!

Anonymous said...

This appears be a rare infestation of the Colorado Squirrel-Killing Elk (Cervus sciurus sicarius).

The dogs in question are obviously being framed. CSKE are elusive and incredibly wiley creatures...

Chas S. Clifton said...

Isaac, as you noted on your blog, raptors are a possibility. This is mostly O.G. Sharpie turf, but the Pgymy Owl tong makes an occasional incursion. Cooper's are a possibility too, whenever you are in the Wet Mountains.

The M.O., however, seems all wrong for either raptor gang, who tend to go for the smash-and-grab, with the victim being plucked elsewhere, on a higher, safer pine bough. Or at least that's what I have seen in my years on the force.

I'm thinking the vic was a squirrel. So who has it in for squirrels--other than collie dogs, but she has an alibi, this time?

Chas S. Clifton said...

Squirrel-eating elk, well, we'll take that under consideration, ma'am.

(Aside) Every high-profile case, you get these weirdos coming in, claiming they dreamed who the killer was or something...

Doug said...

What confuses me is the blood with no visible signs of plucking of feathers or fur (squirrels are awful hard to fly away with from a dead stop). A smash and grab by a raptor wouldn't leave (I don't think) that much blood. What if the the vic was slammed and pinned against the feeder, and then taken someplace else to feed? There is much here to consider.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Preliminary thoughts from the profiler:

The collie probably did not do it, based on m.o. The one time that she caught a squirrel in the deep snow, she chewed on it a little, danced around with the corpse, and then left it lying there.

In this case, however, we have no body.

It might be significant that a beat cop picked up a tuft of squirrel tail hair on the county road, maybe 40-50 yards away. Don't know.

He says we should take a look at the Red Fox Mob. While the Grey Fox Mob runs their rackets up in the thick timber, the Reds are often down here, hustling sunflower seeds and any other little action.

If the vic is a squirrel (still waiting on the lab report), then maybe one of the Reds committed a crime of opportunity.

Only Mr. Squirrel put up a struggle, hence the blood.

Y'know, it does sound plausible.

Josh Myers said...

what if it was a previously injured bird, not a bird that was attacked at the scene? Maybe a severely injured bird looking for its last meal :(

Chas S. Clifton said...

Josh, in my experience, suffering wild animals and birds seek solitude. They know in their bones that they are vulnerable to predators, so they hide until they get better ... or not.

Josh Myers said...

Well put Chas. Hhhmmm... this one sure is a mystery ....

jfseaman said...

Redtail eating a squirrel and the dogs cleaned up the leavings.

Chas S. Clifton said...

jfseaman: Would a redtail try to hang onto the feeder while eating the squirrel? Would it not more likely fly off to a nearby pine bough or other more secure perch? (There are pines and Gambel oaks on two sides of the feeder.)


Wow, Chas--Looks like a hawk got lucky, but then again, using my CSI Miami-trained skills, it's pretty cold and you know how messy and rambunctious those magpies can be...!