Both the birds in this picture are typical of a fox kill. Use these tips for identification:
1.) Missing its head (image on left)
- A fox commonly bites the head completely off a bird to dispatch it, before going on to kill the next bird.
- If the fox had begun to eat the carcase, the feathers will be chewed off (i.e. quills will be partial and have rough ends) not plucked, and the feathers will be stuck together with saliva.
n.b. Sparrowhawks will also take the head off a bird but there will be a pile of plucked out breast feathers, with quill still intact, around the carcass and, strangely, you will usually find the lower mandible left.
2) In this peculiar position (image on right)
- The fox grabs a bird by the middle of its back and crushes the ribs - you can feel this when you handle the carcase. Often feathers in that area will be missing or sticky with saliva.
- When the fox crunches down he causes huge internal damage: the injury seems to cause the bird's head to drop back and arch, as in the photo. The head position is a primary indicator.
n.b. A dog may also kill a bird this way.