Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Miscellaneous dead things

This is a post of random dead things I've come across in the past few weeks...dead things being one of the main things of interest one runs across during winter/early-spring walks! (I know spring is farther along now, but I'm behind.)

This flicker was found inside an abandoned house in Warren County a couple of weeks ago. It looks to be surrounded by dried yew berries. Maybe it wandered in and couldn't get out, and/or maybe it was cached by a squirrel!

These next three were all found in Ocean County this month. Skunks have tiny, delicate feet, which is also reflected in their tiny tracks. This foot belonged to half a skunk I found near a predator burrow (fox? coyote?).

This dead pine snake was brought to my attention by a turkey vulture that was eating it in the middle of a large, wide-open grassland. It didn't smell and was very cryptic, so I was pretty astonished that the vulture had found it. The only visible damage to the snake was a smooshed-in head, so I wonder if the vulture killed it (maybe it had come out of hibernation too early and was sluggish), or if it had died last October when the field was mowed (maybe would have looked more weather-beaten), or maybe just keeled over (do snakes have heart attacks?). This is a threatened species in NJ, and I see a lot of them out in the fields, so mowing during the warmer months would not help in any case. Many of the snakes I find are 6 feet long, so this was a fairly young one, I'm guessing.

Deer skulls are an all-too-common sight in any NJ woodland. But this one has an extra tooth! Looks like a very old deer - the teeth (even the extra one) have lots of wear. Maybe this extra tooth contributed to its demise? I'm not a dentist, but it looks sort of painful. Compare with normal deer skull below.

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