Guest Posting by Dean Hansen.
Dean has contributed to Old Naturalist over the years.
I noticed a road-killed deer near my land just east into Wisconsin from my home in Stillwater. I registered the deer online and dragged it onto my five-acre lot. A simple Moultrie “trail cam” was strapped to a tree a dozen feet from the carcass. It didn’t take long for hungry animals to find the carcass.
Crows on the carcass
December 29, 2019
17 March, 2020: First Spring visitor was a mature Bald Eagle.
17 March: After surveying the scene, he started to open up the chest cavity to get at the lungs and heart.
18 March: A Red Tailed Hawk joins the dining club.
21 March: The Red Tailed Hawk continued feeding in the chest cavity.
22 March: The surprise of this whole experiment was the appearance of a Red Shouldered Hawk on the carcass. This is a Threatened Species in Wisconsin. A WDNR worker told me that it was quite unusual to see this species at carrion.
29 March: The Bald Eagle returns and enlarges the hole to the chest organs.
3 April: A late spring snowfall doesn’t keep the Bald Eagle from returning. That’s a really large bird, I’d say.
7 April: Vultures appear. Again, the chest cavity is the preferred dining site.
April 8: A curious deer
29 April: Vultures continue feeding through the month. Note the grass greening.
May 10: Finally–a coyote appears. I was hoping for a bear, but that was a no-show.
May 11 The coyotes worked on the hind quarters (the “thighs” of the deer), and they even dragged the carcass noticeably to the upper right of the frame.