Decapitated Doves Found in Dyke Marsh Preserve
Resident found remains of two domesticated pigeons, dinner plates, cotton wadding and used candles inside of a trash can along the Mount Vernon Trail and George Washington Memorial Parkway
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A Tuesday morning walk for Fort Hunt resident Ned Stone turned odd and unsettling after he found the remains of two birds between two dinner plates inside of a trash can along the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Stone, the vice president of Friends of Dyke Marsh, was walking along the Mount Vernon Trail in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and picking up trash along the way—a chore he said he often takes upon himself.
When Stone went to deposit his trash into the can next to a few parking spaces on the north side of the parkway across from Tulane Drive, he made his unpleasant discovery. In addition to the headless, bloody birds, Stone found wads of cotton and used candles.
Stone took pictures of what he found and reported it to the National Park Service, which owns and operates the GWMP.
"Dyke Marsh is a preserve, and this sort of thing isn't supposed to happen," Stone said.
NPS Natural Resources Program Manager Brent Steury described the birds as domesticated pigeons and/or doves. (There is very little difference between the two, he said.) The birds Stone found aren't a species native to the Dyke Marsh or even the region, Steury said, and they were most likely purchased at a pet store and brought into the park.
A bare orbital skin spot around the eye distinguishes these birds from similar species of doves, according to Steury, who said he hasn't seen anything like them whether in the wild or at local pet stores.
Both Steury and Stone pointed to a personal blog describing a similar discovery in Washington's Adams-Morgan neighborhood. The blogger believed the birds—the same species as those found in Dyke Marsh this week, according to Steury—were used in a Santeria ritual.
U.S. Park Police spokesperson David Schlosser spoke with Patch briefly on Wednesday. He said had no information on the incident at the time but would follow-up in the near future.