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Original posting from Reddit

I am posting this here in the hopes that an ornithologist might be able to shed some light on this unusual finding. Locality is Boise, Idaho.

This appears to be a roughly spherical mass approximately 6 cm diameter, most of which comprises tightly packed feathers with a central core of dermal tissue. The mass has been parasitized by maggots.

I speculate that this is some kind of tumor, which detached from the afflicted organism, and the decaying tissue attracted flies after detachment. But that's just a guess. If anyone has seen such a phenomenon before, please feel free to enlighten me!

Note, I am not the individual who found this object. I am merely relaying the question to this forum.

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This is a flap of feathered skin from a Mallard, birds do not shed their skin. The bird in question is likely dead or at the very least, severely injured.

The skin and curved feathers has curled up around itself into a "ball". As it's flattened/separated you can see there is reddish skin with some tissue on it the maggots have gathered on. The feathers here are relatively small and curved and the pattern is SPOT ON for the breast/belly feathers of a Mallard.

While it's not really obvious in the photo of the Mallard below, it is very common for them to have that little bit of pale edging on the dark reddish-brown feathers, as seen in the first photo.

Photo of a male Mallard

Photo by Jo Garbutt (Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/jVbHwP )

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