Wolf Ridge

What Feeds on a Dead Deer?


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
March 27, 2015

Have you ever wondered what animals might clean up that dead deer on the side of the road??

At Wolf Ridge we are fond of investigation and discovery. Let’s get to the bottom of this mystery…

First we need some road-kill deer. Check.

Road Kill of a White Tail Deer lays in the woods awaiting scavengers

Road Kill of a White Tail Deer lays in the woods awaiting scavengers

Next we need to set up some trail cameras. Check. Now we wait for a week or so and see what comes by! The results for the past week are in, take a look to see who came.

An Ermine has arrived to the scene

An Ermine has arrived to the scene

 

Seen here are a Hairy woodpecker and two Black capped chickadees

Seen here are a Hairy woodpecker and two Black capped chickadees

A Northern Flying Squirrel

A Northern Flying Squirrel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above images are quite revealing! These images were taken using a DSLR camera trap that provides high resolution and color photos even at night.

A small carnivore, known as the Ermine came to rip off a few chunks of meat. This is a very exciting discovery, because these little weasels are quite elusive and rarely seen. But despite their small size (7-14in long), these are voracious predators, often taking down prey twice their size! You might not think of Hairy woodpeckers or Black capped chickadees as meat-eaters, but if you’ve ever put out “suet” in the winter time, you’ll know that many backyard birds like to eat animal fat. Because these birds are so small, and the temperatures are so low, they need lots and lots of calories for their high metabolism. A Northern flying squirrel also arrived; likely to nibble on some of the fat and on the bones for a good source of calcium. Many folks are surprised to learn that these nocturnal squirrels live here. They den up in the hollows of trees and are active all winter long. They eat mostly seeds and insects, but it turns out, occasionally some dead deer as well.

The following game camera images are from “Wolf Kill Hill”, a spot on campus that has been managed as a wildlife opening.

A Bald eagle claims part of the prize

A Bald eagle claims part of the prize

A pair of Ravens can be seen with the cleaned up bones

A pair of Ravens can be seen with the cleaned up bones

Looks like these big birds did most of the clean up-up duty at Wolf Kill Hill. It is interesting to note that the photo of the Bald eagle also has a raven waiting for a turn in the background. Many times Ravens and Eagles will be seen feasting on the same carcass at the very same time. They seem to take turns, but sometimes the ravens use their intelligence to their advantage…They will routinely tease and harass the eagle in order to claim more of the meal for themselves.

 

We’ll keep you posted if any other wild neighbors decide to check out the scene.

One Response to What Feeds on a Dead Deer?

  1. Carrie Anderson says:

    What a variety of critters!

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