Date: 3/25/20 5:35 pm
From: <whoffman...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Awful Offal, but could it be a bird?
Hi, Bob -

I cannot recognize these from your picture, although the scat seems to be from a small carnivore. I would like to make a few hopefully constructive comments: I see photos of scat, carcasses, beached birds, etc. with some regularity Very often they are unidentifiable from the photos provided, but I get the sense that with more informative photos they might be identifiable. Therefore here are a few guidelines for taking photos that will make ID more feasible.

1. You did OK on this one: include something for a size comparison. Dropping a quarter or your pocket knife into the frame is really helpful. Your boot works fairly well, but I am not sure whether you wear size 6 or size 14.

2.: For mammal scat, photos that show some of the contents are helpful - if there are bones, feathers, fur, blackberry seeds, etc. those help to ID the source. Cats (feral, bobcats, and cougars) eat very little plant material, and (for wild ones) their scat is usually full of fur or feathers, sometimes bones. it can be helpful to take a couple of twigs and tease it apart a bit to show contents better. Scat of domestic cats and dogs (and of raccoons living on dogfood) have a sort of granular/or smooth appearance that with experience is quite recognizable. They also tend to smell worse than wild carnivore scat. Fox and Coyote scat are fairly similar to each other, but differ in size (diameter). Bear scat is usually recognizable by size, and often looks like a wet pile rather than distinct turds. Bear, Raccoon, fox and Coyote scat is often full of seeds, particularly in summer and fall. Spring bear diets usually are dominated by vegetation, and plant fibers may be recognizable. I am not familiar with scat of weasels and skunks.

3. For prey remains, use a twig or something and roll it around to get photos of multiple views. If it has any fur or feathers remaining, showing those in the photo really helps. The right feather can sometimes lead to ID to species of a really mangled bird carcass e.g. a flicker with a colored primary shaft, or the complex pattern of a meadowlark back feather. And some small mammals have distinctive fur - mole fur looks nothing like vole fur. If it has a head remaining, show that - bill shape, kinds of teeth are really helpful. Ditto for a mammal tail. Feet, if present, can be distinctive for a lot of birds and mammals.

4. If you are in a place with lots of light (e.g. beach, roadside, open field) photos taken with your own shadow cast on the subject can be better because that can prevent glare.

I suspect Mike Patterson would have more advice.

Wayne Hoffman


From: "<baro...>" <baro...>
To: "obol" <obol...>
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 6:39:19 PM
Subject: [obol] Awful Offal, but could it be a bird?

Took this photo recently at my place. Happened overnight.
Any field biologists able to identify either item?
Bob OBrien Carver OR
PS How could the originator of the right-hand items so cleanly eject the left-hand item?
Could the latter item be from a bird?

Warning: Photo not for the squeamish.


 
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