Yvonne "Kitty" Bermudez moved to Taos a year ago, setting up a meditation retreat and home in a subdivision west of Taos.
Bermudez, a vegan, liked her neighbors and the quiet atmosphere among the scattered homes. Her flock of two dozen geese, ducks and hens, which helped her with therapy sessions and aren't for food, seemed to like it, too, she said. The ducks had a swimming pond and she left plenty of food out for them in their pen, she said. "All the neighbors loved the birds," Bermudez said. "They would stop by and call and the birds would answer. They had a fan club. They were kind of celebrities here."
But someone apparently did have a problem with the birds or Bermudez.
The night of Oct. 18, Bermudez went to sing karaoke at The Alley Cantina. When she returned, nothing seemed amiss. The next morning, she didn't hear the flock, but didn't think much of it since the weather was turning cold and they tended to huddle up in their house. By midday, when she still didn't hear the flock or see any of the birds wandering among the sagebrush in their pen, she grew concerned.
She took food out to them and called to them. No answer. No birds.
She went into their pen and found the birds dead, piled on top of each other near their house. Some looked like their necks were broken. The others looked like they were covered in tiny stab wounds, as though someone had stabbed them with a nail or ice pick, she said. One badly injured duck and turkey survived the attack.
"It was definitely some person involved. I'm really scared," said Bermudez, who is from Puerto Rico. "Whoever did this, it was done in fury and [anger]."
A neighbor told her later she heard commotion at the bird pen between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Oct. 18, but had seen no lights or people.
Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe confirmed a deputy did respond and is investigating the event.
Veterinarian Kui Kendall examined the birds. "He determined it wasn't a predator. It was a person," Bermudez said.
"Whoever did this came home covered in feathers and blood. And whoever did this is disturbed and violent," she said. "Whoever did this is not well."
Bermudez's place, down Colorado Road in the Rancheros de Taos subdivision, is not close to a highway. She described it as an older community, laid-back and quiet.
The bird killing "doesn't fit this neighborhood," she said.
Bermudez said she is offering a $100 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of the person or people who slaughtered her flock. She hopes someone will call the Taos County Sheriff's Department with information at (575) 737-6480.