"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Manna from ...... Well, whatever...

I headed out to refill the bird feeders today, dropping off a handful of in-the-shell peanuts for the Steller's jays, magpies, and Squirrel.

I worked my way back along the deck guardrail, sprinkling half a cup of black oil sunflower seeds in one feeder, checking the fill level of the shelled sunflower dispenser,  and then farther back to another feeder.

I noticed a particularly large bird splat on the deck and wondered what could have made a dropping that large.  It was all in one puddle, so the bird must have been perched on the rail when it relieved itself.  Also, that meant it wasn't an eagle, which squirts a lively and lengthy stream all over tarnation.

You know, people, not every  blog you read shows you photos of bird poop.  Or, in this case, bird urine.

Then I looked up.   There on the rail in front of the yet to be filled feeder were three small fish, each roughly four inches long.  They appeared to have a goodly amount of mud on them and only one was intact.   The other two were headless.

You'll notice the sorry state of my deck rail.   Refinishing it was delayed by the high heat and wildfire smoke we had all summer.   Maybe next year....    It's a 2x6, so that gives you a size comparison for the fish.

My thoughts immediately went to the usual suspects:    Corvids! 

If there's been mischief about, blame it on the magpies and Steller's jays, is what I always say.   I examined the fish carefully and not-too-closely, although there did not seem to be any odor coming from them.

Who, what, when, where, and why?

A.   Who?   I really don't know.   I don't think a jay could carry three fish any distance.  One at a time?   Yes, perhaps.   A magpie?    Yes, perhaps.   What about an owl or an eagle?   I've already ruled out eagles due to the nature of the white splotch.  Owl?   Iffy.    And, as the jays and magpies are here often, I am familiar with the size of their droppings.    This one is too big.

B.   What?   Where would these fish come from and why are they covered in what I think is mud?   Tern Lake is less than a mile away.  There's lots of swampy muskeg quit near and it is known to have fingerlings in it.

C.   When?   Well, sometime before noon today.

D.   Where?   Pfft.   My front deck where all the bird feeders are located.

E.  Why?   Ya' got me.   Are they a gift?    Did some bird put them there to wait until the mud dried and would come off easily?  I have no idea.

To further compound the mystery, an hour later the fish were gone.   I was away from the window during that time.   But, even if a magpie or a jay had taken them, they are opportunistic feeders and that might not be proof they they put them there originally.

The only clue I have as to the culprit is a triangular mark on one fish.   It is the perfect shape of a bird's beak.    A corvid-sized bird, perhaps.   Maybe something a bit larger.   A beak that has the ability to clamp down hard and leave a deep impression.   A beak not necessarily designed for strictly seed-eating.

A predator.

'Tis a mystery.


  1. It is a good mystery but I'm sure your expert sleuthing will get it figured out. Birds are definitely messy. We got a bird bath this summer and it seems like a full time job keeping it clean. The birds don't care where they do their business and the Robins are extremely messy. Then the deer come and drink the water.

  2. Alaska has many mysteries to offer us. This one on your deck railing is indeed intriguing. Also amazing that the three fish disappeared when you were away from the window shortly after having seen them. More will be revealed??? Patti and Cap

  3. Amazing. Absolutely and Positively Amazing. Do you think the mystery (bird or ??) was watching you as you were checking out his / her three fish. And when you went into the house he / she swooped down and took his / her three fish away. Wonderful .. You had us on the edge of our chairs as you spun your tale. Smiling Cap and Patti too !!