When birds die, they get recycled!

posted in: Miscellaneous | 1


Aydin Örstan from Maryland, US read the early post on “Where do birds go when they die?” and sent me a link to his series of posts on the same question, “Where do all the dead birds go?”

With Aydin’s permission, I am summarising his series of posts that you can view in full HERE: 1, 2 and 3.

A Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) was picked up on a sidewalk. From the condition of the dead bird, it was obvious that it had died probably not more than an hour or so earlier (left top). He put the body in a box and left the box in a secluded corner of his garden and ensured that the many “body snatchers” around did not get at it.

On day 2, there were flies around the rotting body – blow flies (Family: Calliphoridae) (left, second). They obviously detected the smell of the dead animal and arrived to deposit their eggs on the carcass. There were also plenty of ants crawling all over. There was a distinct smell indicating that decomposition had set in.

On day 3, there were more flies and more ants on and around the bird. There were many loose feathers, small ones, around and the tail feathers had fanned out, signs that the skin and the flesh had broken down (left, third).

On day 4, the smell was overpowering, indicating that decomposition was at its highest. Blow fly maggots were everywhere, on and around the body (left bottom). The carcass had disintegrated, with the skull partially visible (below left). The orange arrow shows the larger maggots and the yellow arrows the maggots at a younger stage.

On day 8, all the flesh and skin had been consumed and only the feathers and bones were left. There were no more maggots around, only a few ants (below right).

As Aydin concludes, “Dead things don’t go to Heaven or Hell. They rot, get eaten and turn into soil… Many organisms have evolved to obtain their nourishment solely from dead animals or plants. In nature, nothing goes to waste and nothing lasts forever.”


Check out today’s message by Aydin HERE on BESG’s website and how he gets “bored from looking at the seemingly endless species lists or just pictures of birds… that I regularly read. In contrast, almost all posts at the BESG blog have something to do with an interesting bird behavior and are accompanied with good, original pictures. I find them quite informative.”

  1. anon

    Such is the nature of life! But I don’t think bird carcass will be allowed to rot if they die in HDB estates. Those efficient cleaners will probably sweep it up and dump it in the rubbish bin.

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