What could have killed this pigeon (no photos)

Hi folks,
I am asking beause I came across a dead pigeon 3 days ago. It’s head and upper back section were gone (fairly cleanly), but it was otherwise sitting upright, as if still sitting to rest. Some scattered feathers but no sign of a commotion.
This was in a downtown city street, just off a busy road and footpath.
I live in North America for context.

Can you think of what might have done that? It admittedly disturbed me because I haven’t seen an animal do something like that before.

Any insight would be appreciated!

Sounds like a predator lost its grip, I’m thinking birds of prey, raptors.


I agree with Thunderhead. It’s hard to pin this to any one species, but this is very likely the result of a predation attempt and probably from some predatory bird. Hawks, eagles, falcons, and others are all possible depending on where you live.


This is interesting, but a little more info is needed, how fresh was the kill? was it sitting, standing, or holding onto a tree branch when you found it? How clean was the cut? Was the head neck and upper back removed in one piece or was the head removed and a separate part of the back removed?

The only thing I can say with the info provided so far is that the forces needed to remove a significant part of a vertebrate’s body (not counting expendable lizard tails, etc) are far, far greater than the forces needed to knock a pigeon over, so I am nearly certain that the pigeon was placed or dropped where you found it after being attacked, and it was not cut in half while sitting in place

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Were there transmission lines overhead? I have a property with several powerlines running through it. I have been surprised (and disturbed), by the number of dead birds I see beneath them, obviously from collisions. I have never seen a bird decapitated, but I guess this is not impossible.

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