Ways to tell if a bird was dispatched by cat or bird of prey?

Sometimes I find a patch of feathers dispersed on the ground and no body in sight. So I’ve been curious as to what might have killed the birds that the feathers belonged to. Do cats and birds of prey leave distinct ‘kill sites’?

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@jhousephotos - nice question, i too would like to know. :-)

Birds of prey usually leave feathers that are whole with no attack signs. Mammal predators (like foxes) leave bite marks and the feather’s calamus (shaft) is usually bitten off of destroyed. As for cats, they don’t mostly kill to eat so there would be little to none feathers left, in my opinion; they take the bird whole to “show off”.


If you find just piles of feathers lying around, chances are this was a raptor attack as they have habits of stripping their prey before consuming it. With cat attacks, I often find the whole body, with either a broken neck or a missing head. If you’re willing to look closer, a cat’s canines leave distinctive puncture marks as well.


Fascinating question. Do raptors dress their prey on the ground? I would guess if dressed from the trees, the feathers would be dispersed. Several times, I’ve found relatively localized piles of feathers on the ground with no body in sight.

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Welcome @marcin84

and thanks for info as well

Why would the cat leave the body ?

many years ago we found the head missing but the body of a Eurasian Wigeon -? So if what you say is correct then a cat attacked it but why would it leave the body


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Many birds of prey, e.g. Accipiters, prefer doing it on the ground, as said above mammals in general, not only cats, don’t pluck out feathers, so you can see fairly easy when it’s a mammal kill, e.g. this killed by goshawk probably, this one by sparrowhawk, and this one by cat.

@ram_k cause they kill not because of starving, brains are more nutritient and tasty than other bodyparts, also liver too, but head is easier to eat.


thank you

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actually it was two birds - both new records for our area
Eurasian Wigeon and Common Redshank

while in another case we found the headless body of an Hill Partridge

now it makes sense – and am getting bit frightened of these beheading cats


both near my home :-)

The pictures and story is pretty cool - this coming winter will see if we can find anything like this :-)

Very cool! Unfortunately we don’t have any wild cats here.

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Here 4 cats - Snow Leopard, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat. The Tiger has been seen in a Camera trap at about 3000 metres but no consistent sighting. There are possibly a cat or two more but we don’t know enough


Just remembered to post this
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/84518026 :-)

About 150 metres from home a couple of winters ago, on new years eve .

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Well, technically there’re some common lynxes, but mostly in regions that border one I live in now as they need undisturbed forests.
I have some photographers in friends who always post snow leopardsa and manuls, that’s cool to be in mountains if you like mammals.

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I would certainly like to see a Lynx

@jhousephotos apologies for digressing from your thread, I will refrain now :-)

Cats, especially domestic housecats, often kill to work out their innate predator instinct, or just for fun

No bobcats or mountain lions (puma)? Every now and then there are sightings of mountain lions in flat old Manitoba. And every now and then some hiker in the mountains out west gets attacked by one. Grizzly bears generally get a couple of hikers every year!

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No, those live in North America.