[Tweeters] Kingfishers target practice?

Daniel R Froehlich danielfroehlich at gmail.com
Sun Jun 23 13:00:06 PDT 2013

Disturbing scene, John.

In a situation like that, it's worthwhile to alert wildlife officials
(WDFW) right away. While it's illegal to appropriate the birds even when
dead, I personally would consider salvaging the birds and bringing them to
a wildlife official or to a permitted facility like the Burke Museum for
specimen preservation (check previous tweeter threads on this topic).

In any case, I would closely examine the carcasses, since the cause of
death may well be apparent in such a situation (some may fear the risks of
handling dead things--so use gloves or whatever protection you deem

Your question, "What else could possible kill and seemingly waste...?" is a
good one. As you say, mustelids are widely suspected for it; same with red
foxes. Modern humans are known for it too. To my eye, the scene your pics
show looks like target practice: someone with a gun that found the
frequent visits by these birds to their nest holes an irresistible target
challenge, a person whose criminal actions unfortunately may give all gun
owners or hunters a bad reputation.

Examining the carcasses by gently blowing the feathers to the side can
often reveal entry holes for small-caliber shotgun shot or BBs. Also,
checking the bridge or nearby site accessible to humans might reveal the
cartridge casings used and support the hypothesis that a human was

It is a no-brainer to condemn the slaughter of migrant birds in the
far-distant Mediterranean, even if it is a long-standing practice or
tradition but one that has become more wanton in modern times. European
groups have begun intervening by documenting these activities for about a
decade now and it is significant that NatGeo has picked up this story, as a
Tweeters post pointed out recently. There are efforts to tighten EU
restrictions and especially enforcement. But realize that there
opportunities to direct our righteous anger toward situations closer to
home: areas in the Caribbean, such as hunting ranches on Barbados--that
maintain acreage with bird-attractive wetlands--host similar carnage of
shorebird species that Americans spend significant conservation dollars on,
but this hunt is "traditional" since the colonial period. Similarly, the
poaching of game and non-game species in our own state deserve our
attention, even if poorly known. Citizen watchfulness and documentation
along with sufficiently staffed and educated wildlife law enforcement (the
kind of government function that "cutting" government defunds first), are
roles we can individually support.

Support regional environmental education programs and get to know your
wildlife agents. Show you care by getting involved.

Dan Froehlich
Poulsbo, WA

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Raymond <plutofido2012 at live.com>
To: <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2013 23:44:44 -0700
Subject: [Tweeters] mysterious deaths of 6 Belted Kingfishers
6 dead Belted Kingfishers.
Today I was hiking some logging roads in Grays Harbor County near Montesano
when I came upon a very sad scene. In very close proximity there were 6
dead Belted Kingfishers. It appeared that 5 were dumped in the ditch and 1
sat a tad higher on a roadcut. All within a few feet. They were large and
appeared fully fledged.
Sitting at the scene it was very apparent that some of the ilks that
frequent the area that often leave dead poached animals and remains had
killed these birds and dumped them. As I took some photos of the scene I
saw that in the flat, vertical soft orange clay/dirt bank that there were
two cavities right above the dead birds about 8-10 feet above.
It dawned on me that the birds must have tumbled down from the apparent
nest holes. Although access would be very tough- there is a branch close,
it seemed likely a predator killed the
lot. Weasel/Martin/Fisher/Mink? There is a stream on the steep slopes
below making it a nice environment for the birds to hunt, and there is not
alot of traffic on these roads so wildlife have alot of room to roam safely.
The puzzling thing, I suppose, is that the birds looked fully able to
fly-were they just becoming fledglings and did they return and sleep in the
nest cavity? What else could possible kill and seemingly waste other than
the notorious weasel-family's record of rampage that has been noted
often. Don't think a Raccoon could have easily accessed the area-though
they are never overlooked.

Photos below-poor quality on from my cellphone.



Input appreciated on this sad discovery.

John Raymond
Brady Loop Rd, WA
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