A couple of weeks ago while walking through Totem Park on a typically fall cool overcast day, something odd caught my eye near the northwest edge of the younger second growth stand on the south side of the river just up from the estuary meadow. It was a pale form with a streak of orange color lying about 10 paces off the trail along a very minor side path, not even really enough to qualify as a game trail. I mentioned to Connor that I had seen something, and though he didn’t see it, he decided to investigate more closely. I waited at the trail while he made his way through the mostly leafless salmonberry bushes that lined the main trail where we were.
It took him a few moments to spot it, and when he told me it was part of a duck, I went over to look it over more closely with him. I have seen dead birds before, but not like this. All we could see was the lower half of a Mallard, feet, but no wings. The bird had been separated in a relatively clean manner, I didn’t really look like it had been ripped apart, in any case. We did not look too closely, but there were not other obvious signs of damage on the remains we could see. The bird also seemed relatively fresh, though given the cool fall temperatures, I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to rot quickly.
Save for a single feather that probably came off the main part we found, there were no other pieces of duck that we could find in the nearby area. It’s hard to imagine what scenario might have led to half a duck on the ground where we found it. Actually, it is mostly hard to imagine how the duck got separated from itself. The most plausible scenario I can come up with is that a human did it. Once cut in half, it is not too hard to come up with ways it might have ended up where we found it. Eagles sometimes drop food when being chased and are not able to find it again. Another possibility is that one of the many dogs that get walked in the park one could have found it along the river and moved it up into the woods.