Monday, June 11, 2012

One for the Taphonomically Inclined

(Click the image for a larger version.)

About ten days ago I found this dead hawk.  I think that it is a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), but hawk identification is not one of my strong points. It was lying on a nearly vertical stream bank, about a foot above the waterline.  

It had been lying in this position long enough for several twigs to accumulate on it, without having been disturbed by scavengers.  The feathers were still in a configuration which was nearly perfectly life-like. At the same time, what appear to be the neck vertebrae were exposed, indicating that the hawk's soft tissues had been removed, presumably by the action of insect larvae.

The hawk reminds me somewhat of Archaeopteryx specimens with preserved feathers.  It is interesting to consider the length of time that the hawk's feathers and skeletal structure had remained undisturbed, and how this would affect the potential for long-term preservation, in the rare event that such a dead bird would eventually be covered by sediment.    


  1. Your post is very interesting information about related topic is awesome. I was finding this type of information from long time. I think you should going on to make this type of blog.

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  2. "Kevin" as he calls himself is a spammer.

    At any rate, did this hawk die from old age or like the Hawk in Star Trek VI?

  3. I figured that it was spam, but since I get so few comments on the blog I didn't bother to delete it.

    It's been about 20 years since I saw Star Trek VI, so I don't remember anyone or anything in it named Hawk.