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Subject: Any clue what this is?
Location: Southeast USA
December 22, 2013 4:19 pm
I came across this while clearing dead leaves from a flowerbed near my house. It was just sitting on top of the mulch and at first I thought it was some sort of animal feces, but upon closer inspection, I noticed a smaller, nearly identical version laying next to it. I have no idea what this is or if its even a “bug.” I’ve searched online extensively, but to no avail. Any help with identifying this “thing” will be greatly appreciated.
Signature: Anonymous

Evicera perhaps

viscus perhaps

Dear Anonymous,
We do not believe these objects have any relation to insects or other bugs.  They remind us of viscera.  Perhaps a hawk or other predator eviscerated its prey near your flowerbed.  Years ago when we would feed the birds and large flocks of Mourning Doves would come to the yard to feed, we realized that we had created a smorgasbord for the Cooper’s Hawks that feed on birds.  Hawks would catch the doves and eviscerate them from the branches of a large carob tree and we frequently found viscera laying on top of the soil.  What’s in John’s Freezer has a photo of an eviscerated chicken to illustrate our opinion.

Viscera we believe

Viscera we believe


September 7, 2012
Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California

Gentle Readers,

I spoke of this wildly imagined theory to Julian this evening and I want to spread the word to you cat owners.

This morning, as the sky was dark and moonless and the stars abounded, around 5:30 AM, I took out the compost pile from the kitchen and heard a cat in the treehouse.  I heard a cat, but it wasn’t quite like a cat.  It sounded vaguely birdlike, but definitely like a cat.  I sat in the Adirondack chair in my robe and listened over the course of several minuets.  During that time, the sound of the cat slowly evolved into a more birdlike raptor sound.  Eventually as the call came to sound like a lone owl, a large bird flew off into the lightening sky, neatly silhouetted and bigger than a raven.  I believe the bird was a Great Horned OWL.

Several weeks ago when my mother was visiting, we heard a pair of owls calling from the large pine over the roof.  When I went out, I also heard a cat mewling on the ground, but I couldn’t see it.  One owl flew into another tree and they had the forlorn cat between them.  Later the owls were in the neighboring ash tree with the tree house where I heard the lone cat cry this morning.  Below was the now pathetic meow of a harried cat.
I believe that owls have adapted to attack cats at night by attracting them through imitation.

Julian, upon hearing this, reported that he read that in an owl vomitorium, where pellets are deposited, there was a pile of cat collars.  Julian did not say if that pile was in Mount Washington.

Domestic Shorthair on London Roads quilt

First, better classify your conjecture as a hypothesis rather than a theory–the latter being based on a set of facts, the former a supposition of a possible outcome.

Although I couldn’t find a specific documented instance of Great Horned Owls killing domestic cats, there are plenty of mentions of the possibility of owls killing small cats–but I could not find anyone who spoke from personal experience or observation (and I don’t want to spend more time searching on Daniel’s behalf).

There is a documented instance of an owl attacking a 4-pound Chihuahua (who escaped) at:

And, Daniel, you should check out the owl sound recordings at:
to see if any of them sound like what you heard.

An alternative hypothesis is that you really heard an actual cat and an actual owl, and saw one or more owls depart the scene and did not see the cat. The fact that you didn’t see a cat doesn’t mean that a cat was not present (Schrodinger, anyone??).

If we want to investigate this further, I suggest that we look for owl roosts and search the ground underneath for owl pellets and remains that might belong to cats, including cat collars (no, I couldn’t find the original source for that tale, and it wasn’t on Mt. Washington anyway).

Be safe out there,

Thanks Julian,
During the first instance several weeks ago with two owls, there was definitely a cat involved.  The morning call from Friday morning was definitely the call of a bird that sounded like a cat and eventually evolved into sounding like an owl.  I did see the owl fly away and the call stopped.

LA Times article on Leo Politi Elementary’s inner-city nature/science program
April 16, 2012
It’s not every day an inner-city public school is featured worldwide on the front page of the LA Times for a ‘best practice,’ so I want to seize the moment and share our good news with you.  Here’s the article:,0,1384226.story
I hope you enjoy it and will ‘pass it on’ to any and all who might share a passion for the work.  I also encourage you to visit the Los Angeles Audubon Society for more information on their work.  Explore the ‘Education’ link to see the actual work of our school’s science illustrators:
Brad Rumble
Los Angeles

Thanks for the tip Brad.  Our LA Times is still on the front porch.  We still prefer reading our local news on the train to work as opposed to on the computer since we do so many other tasks on the computer.

Update:  Hi again Paul,
We read the article on the train.  We didn’t realize that you were the principal at Leo Politi.  Congratulations on a job well done and the well deserved press coverage on the amazing improvement in the science competency at your school.

Prey of the Praying Mantis
Location: Biggsville, Il.
October 9, 2011 7:07 am
I was going to post this to your general comment site but there wasn’t any place for a picture. I took this Tues. Oct. 4th. I assume this was the last Hummingbird in the garden. I have had quite a few Praying Mantises in the garden this year and many butterflies fell prey to them but when I saw this Hummingbird in it’s grasp I was truly amazed. I’d heard stories but only thought they were campfire stories much like a Hummingbird flying south on a gooses back.
Signature: Randy Anderson

Preying Mantis eats Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Dear Randy,
We are truly honored that you have submitted your amazing Food Chain images to our website.  We would strongly urge you to post a comment to our posting in the event that anyone out there in cyberspace is interested in using your images for some purpose in the future.  We cannot stop internet piracy and we realize there are many folks with questionable ethics that might try to steal your images.  As least we do not post the high resolution images and people are only able to easily grab the thumbnails.  While we are certain that your photos may horrify some of our sensitive readers because Hummingbirds are so beloved, they also represent the possibilities that occur in nature.  Perhaps the Hummingbird was old or feeble.  A large female Preying Mantis is a formidable hunter and her raptorial front legs have a strong grasp.  We also have an image buried in our archives of a Golden Orbweaver that captured and fed upon a Hummingbird.  Thanks again for allowing us to share your images with our readership.

Preying Mantis eats Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Early Worm Gets the Bird
Location: S. Illinois
May 11, 2011 5:56 pm
The first Cicada of the season gets got by a Brown Thrasher.
Not sure if this is an annual or periodical cicada, we’re due for Brood XIX 13 year periodicals any time now.
Signature: Bert

Brown Thrasher eating something

Hi Bert,
The insect in your photo appears to have mandibles for chewing, unlike the piercing and sucking mouthparts of a Cicada.  We would be more inclined to identify the prey in this photo as a Beetle Grub.

Pretty sure it is a Cicada nymph, and what you’re seeing as mandibles is actually one of the weird clamp-claws that cicada nymphs have. Also, the color is more consistent with a cicada nymph than with most beetle grubs.

Hi Again Bert,
Thanks for the clarification.  Photos can be quite deceptive, and you were the actual observer and you know what a Cicada looks like.  Thanks again for sending us your wonderful photograph.

Fat green robin chow
Location:  Westford Massachusetts
October 10, 2010 6:07 pm
Hello Bugman… found you on a Google search for ”green caterpillar”. Great site!
I’m curious about the fat green ’pillar that turned into fast-growing robin feathers in my apple tree this summer. Tobacco worm? Luna moth? or ….??
Thank you!
Suzanne Niles
Signature:  Suzanne Niles aka Frogshooter

Robin feeds Caterpillar to Chicks

Dear Suzanne,
We can’t really make out what this caterpillar is for certain, but it does not look like a Hornworm or a Saturniid.  Our best guess is some species of Cutworm or other Owlet Caterpillar.  Even though we couldn’t be certain with your identification, we are in awe at this awesome photograph.

Hi Daniel,
Wow… thanks for the quick reply!  … and for the kind words about the photo.  So the delicacy will remain “The Fat Green Thing”.
I staked out this nest right outside my back door, about 10 feet away from the apple tree.  Trimmed a few twigs/leaves to clear a “window”, then sat on a stool with a tripod and my new fast camera set at two shots per second… and waited for feeding time, which was about every 10 minutes.  Guaranteed results!  Worms, bugs, and berries arrived, but this green thing took the beauty prize for meals-on-wings.
Thanks again!  Now I can stop Googling-for-greenies.