Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Preoccupied with poo

I apologize, but there will be an interruption in my reporting on my GBBC experiences. I'm preoccupied with poop.

Fresh(-ish) calling card... but who left it?

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we came along some animal excrement while hiking the abandoned rail bed at Lake Hope during day 3 of the GBBC. When I first saw it, I assumed it was someone's pellets (coughed up indigestible matter). I didn't think it was scat because I had never seen such a long continuous strand of poop before! But then again, I've never really seen a pellet before, either, so why did I go in that direction in the first place? I dunno. Birds on the brain, I guess.

Degraded poo

Anyway, this Science Chimp in training could not let a good nature mystery go unsolved, so I hit the ol' Google up for some information. Since I said that the material looked intestinal in shape, I figured it was more likely someone's poop rather than something an animal coughed up, so I started looking for info about scat.

After looking at various photos and reading descriptions, I'm fairly certain it is coyote scat that we're looking at here, for the following reasons:
  • The presence of hair would indicate that we're dealing with a predator.
  • Somewhere along the way I read that coyotes often follow well-defined paths, and this was right in the middle of the rail bed.
  • Coyotes are certainly present in this region of the state.
  • It could also be fox scat, but according to info found on the web (sorry, I can't find my source page now) it is most likely coyote scat based on its size (the diameter and length of fox scat is apparently smaller than that of coyote scat). The length of these pieces was surely a good 6", and it was at least 1" in diameter.
I wish I would have taken more photos, but I'm sure 2 poo photos is more than enough for some. By the way, while I was doing various "scat" searches, I came across the most awesome thing: a scat scarf! Check it out!
It is described as follows
SCAT SCARF (DENIM BLUE). This unique visual aid features scat drawings that are twice life size, sketched from samples found in the field. Includes: ringtail, shrew, bat, racoon, armadillo, opossum, mouse and vole, bear, rabbit and hare, prairie dog, porcupine, squirrel and chipmunk, gopher, marmot and woodchuck, beaver, muskrat, pronghorn antelope, fox, weasel, mountain lion, bobcat, mountain goat, river otter, pine marten, skunk, mink, badger, wolverine, bighorn sheep, elk, deer and moose. This wearable field guide is great for field trips, hikes, or as a conversation piece. Measures 21 inches square.
Interesting... no coyote scat on that scarf. Regardless, I still think it's pretty neat. It's sold by Acorn Naturalists. I'll be requesting a catalog from these folks!

All right birdy lovers, sorry for the diversion. Tomorrow we will resume our regularly scheduled program with GBBC day 4!


RuthieJ said...

Funny scarf....but I suppose it's much easier to fold up and carry along in your pocket than a field guide, right?

Heather said...

Ruthie - Forget carrying it in my pocket... I'll wear it on my head! I'm a do-rag kind of girl, and I'm a little quirky sometimes, too, and this bandanna so totally fits the bill for me!

Kelly said...

:-D Very interesting...keep us posted, and you'll have to post a photo of you in the scat scarf!

KaHolly said...

Ah, a poopologist in the making! I have lots of poop pictures myself. Always makes for interesting conversation, doesn't it? Thanks for visiting my blog. I do follow Nature Remains! She's one of the firt blogs I discovered and I think she's incredible. I think that's how I found you, as a matter of fact!

Meg said...

Hi Heather,

Wow--a blogger who will research poop finds--THAT'S what I'm talking about! Thanks for visiting my blog. I'll definitely be back to yours. I am a "wish-I-was" birder. I don't have the patience or maybe it is attention span to i.d. birds, but I love them and I love reading about them.


Kathiesbirds said...

You are a true nature nut! Love it! Bravo to you for doing the research!

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

We actually own a "Scat and Tracks" book, along with our zillion other field guides. ... Maybe Lisa would like that scarf. I'll ask her. :)

- Birdcouple

Heather said...

Wow, an audience appreciative of a post about poo. You guys are awesome! Thanks for all the comments.

Anonymous said...

Hi Heather. I am trying to identify animal poo on my patio and front porch in New Orleans area. It is 1 & 1/2 inches long and tapers at one end. What are your ideas?

Heather said...

Hello Anonymous. Gee, I can't really venture any accurate guesses based on your description - it could be something as easy as cat poop, or something more "exotic" like raccoon poop. I'm certainly no poo expert, so I'm not sure what to tell you. Do you have a blog or Flickr account or anything where you can post a picture of it that I could see?