Wednesday, January 13, 2010

O' squirrel an' fisher (not for weak stomachs)

Janet writes: I found this rather fresh looking kill site a couple of
days ago and figured I'd post these disgusting pics just to break up the
monotony of Dan's incredibly beautiful photos. But, really, this is
interesting stuff if you have the stomach for it.

There were a variety of tracks all around, but the freshest were those
of fisher, one trail entering the scene, and another exiting. So I
assumed the culprit was fisher.

In the photo showing the widest view, you can see the teeth of the lower
jaw, just above the center of the photo, and the skull at the bottom.
Most of the fur was reddish, although that doesn't show well in the
photo. I thought probably red squirrel.

Given the appearance of a relatively fresh kill, and that fisher tracks
were by far the freshest tracks in the area, I thought culprit was most
likely fisher. However, there were several unfisher-like facts:
1. The skull was present.
2. Neither tail nor intestines were present.
3. The site was not marked with a scat.

So maybe the fisher had been interrupted while feeding (perhaps by me
bumbling through the snow?), and raced off with the decapitated victim.

One photo shows a line of white goo that was at the edge of the kill
site. I don't know whether that came from the fisher or the panicked
squirrel. Do fishers mark with white goo? I've never seen that before,
nor have I seen reference too it. I have seen otters do something like
that, though. (But I'm pretty certain the tracks were fisher, not
otter. Feet were just shy of 2 inches in width, so a small fisher at
that, and moving in a 2-2 bounding gait both to and from the site.)

I popped the skull and jaw into a little bag for further study, which
I'll post about later.


  1. White goo possibly left by scavenging raptor?

  2. Oh, I hand't thought of that. Would they leave it in a long line like that? There were 2 such lines, almost parallel, and about 8 inches apart.

  3. Did it have any discernible scent?

  4. No, it did not have a discernible scent. Raptor is probably right. It's just funny that it was in 2 long lines.

  5. I happened to be flipping through one of my tracking books in search of some other piece of information, when I noticed a picture of a kill site with a long white line just like I saw at this one. It said this is typical of hawks at kill sites. They squirt it back in a long line.