Another American Kestrel Being A Picky Eater

Kestrels are highly efficient and skillful at “de-hiding” their small mammal prey (and no, I don’t think this image is gory).


1/1600, f/8, ISO 500, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This female American Kestrel, photographed on a beveled sign post on Antelope Island back in June of 2011, had captured a vole. She obviously wanted as little to do as possible with all that nasty hair covering the delectable goodies beneath so she got rid of as much of it as she could. When she shook her head with her beak full of hair the fur would fly in the soft breeze.

I never posted this image back then because I worried it might be too graphic for some readers but I’ve had second thoughts. I believe what we’re seeing is the exposed (scalped) top of the head which would be the pericranium. The pericranium is the part of the membranous periosteum (which covers almost all mammal bones) that covers only the skull. There really isn’t even any blood to be seen and there’s certainly no guts so I don’t see this photo as gory at all.

And besides it demonstrates the impressive surgical skills of many raptors that rival those of human surgeons and the only surgical tools these birds can use is their beak. That skull is incredibly well exposed (and I mean that from a surgical point of view, not a photographic one…).

Pretty impressive if you ask me.




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