Since You Asked: Have dead birds flown the coop?

Where do the bodies of dead birds go? We have a lot of birds flying around, but you never see the bodies of birds lying around.

— Bob S., Medford

They go to birdie heaven, Bob, assuming they've been good little birds. If they've been bad, we don't even like to think about it.

But Bob, most of the experts in the Since You Asked School of Ornithology aren't accepting your premise. A gent who walks several blocks to the stately Since You Asked campus almost every day says he often sees dead birds around town. It is his practice to hope as he nears avian corpses that the deceased are starlings or house sparrows. Alas, this is not always the case.

And if you've been to the Oregon coast you may know that bird carcasses aren't limited to the occasional gull, pelican or sandpiper. You may see many bodies of sea-going birds such as the common murre.

Still, why don't we see more bird bodies? One reason is that many birds die of predation and are eaten by other birds or animals or — unfortunately — feral cats or cats allowed to run amok outside by their owners.

Many migratory birds perish in bodies of water when they lack the vigor to complete their journeys. Still others fall to earth but are eaten by nature's clean-up crew, everything from turkey vultures, crows and ravens to bugs. Bugs alone can turn a large bird to feathers and bones in a matter of hours.

Countless others die far from human habitation, out in nature, which strikes us as maybe a bit inconsiderate, but there you are.

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