Background: A witness reported to the police that a common wood pigeon (columba palumbus) lifelessly had dropped on her balcony immediately after a shot was heard. The dead animal at first appeared to exhibit just a single neck injury. An initial X-ray by the forensic scientist remained unspectacular. Thus it was referred to our unit.
Case / methods: The pigeon underwent post mortem computed tomography (PMCT) scanning. The bird was first examined and documented as it was. To examine the skin, the feathers were plucked. Then, a partial autopsy was performed (the skull was not opened).
Results: The animal did not show a leg ring. The injury constellation identified a wound track by a single bullet, not typical for an air gun or for shotgun pellets. PMCT showed a multitude of CT-dense round small objects in the pigeon’s craw. Feather damage was consistent with a sitting (not flying) position of the wings. An oblique single wound track was identified from the left leg to the right anterolateral throat region, right through the craw where the exit wound imposed as widely gaping crater-like wound of the throat. The skeletal muscles and organs appeared to be pale. The ascendent aorta had been severed.
Conclusions: Conclusive results such as in an assumedly shot animal greatly benefit from a step wise approach. The PMCT results enhance the autopsy findings.