Tetrapod Zoology

Last weekend I went out, and saw this. What could it be?


Warning: this is not meant to be easy. Answer tomorrow.


  1. #1 John S. Wilkins
    May 16, 2009

    It’s a wire mesh. It makes it very hard to see what looks like an owl.

  2. #2 ginasketch
    May 16, 2009

    I’d guess it’s one of those fake owls designed to scare pigeons away. Failing that it looks sort of parrot like.

  3. #3 shiva
    May 16, 2009

    One of those plastic models of a Bubo that people put on rooves of buildings to scare off pigeons and gulls would be the obvious answer, but as someone else has already said that, it’s probably too “easy”. Also, there’s a bit of red on it, which i don’t think those models generally have…

    (Anyone know what, if any particular, species those models are supposed to be of? All the ones i’ve seen look identical, with a grey back and white underparts, but i’ve never seen a real Bubo owl with that colouring…)

  4. #5 Vasha
    May 16, 2009

    ginasketch has it. It seems this puzzle is not as hard as you thought; I, too, looked at the photo and immediately thought “one of those plastic owls”.

  5. #6 Amongthylacines
    May 16, 2009

    The stony owl is even sitting on a trunk which is growing out of the stone building. A grande achievement to say the least.
    But like the others say.
    So it must be wrong
    And there must be some hidden cache.

    So maybe it’s a leprechaun !
    A leprechaun from tha Low Countries.
    Put in prison
    But on the wrong side

  6. #7 Onychomys
    May 16, 2009

    A partially decomposed raccoon!

  7. Obviously, it is a life model of an imagined reconstruction with necessary modifications for marketability of a Montauk Monster (Montauchus horribilis).

    Or a plastic anti-pigeon device (had one in our garden back in Maryland — the birds used to sit on it as they pondered which vegetable to decimate next).

  8. #9 Jerzy
    May 16, 2009

    Looks like no live tetrapod, but model of an owl used to scare the birds away.

    Although I wondered about Callithrix jacchus 😉

  9. #10 Rob Jase
    May 16, 2009

    Plastic owl with red spots of plastic blood from plastic pigeons.

  10. #11 Carlos
    May 16, 2009

    Its either a budgie, some sort of galliforme, a plastic owl or an evil gothic sparrow

  11. #12 zeta_gelgoog
    May 16, 2009

    Plastic owl like everyone else says, though the fact you said its not supposed to be easy makes me wonder.

  12. #13 eddie
    May 16, 2009

    There’s an owl there, wearing its yoda outfit.
    Is the mesh your way to MYDM?

  13. #14 A. Pigeon
    May 16, 2009

    I don’t know what it is, but it gives me the creeps.

  14. #15 Monado
    May 16, 2009

    For the owls to work, you have to move them from time to time.

    If the owls don’t work, get a rubber (plastic?) snake. Pigeons don’t like snakes. I would try suspending the front 1/4 of it from a flexible support with a bit of fishing line or strong thread, so it would move with the breeze.

  15. #16 Zach Miller
    May 16, 2009

    I might not’ve gotten this if I hadn’t seen it at Fred Meyer the other day.

  16. #17 Susannah
    May 16, 2009

    Looks like a flicker to me. Black and white markings on the back, red breast decoration, white necklace.

  17. #18 Kevin Schreck
    May 16, 2009

    Fake owl, is my guess.

  18. #20 Alan Kellogg
    May 16, 2009

    Wilkins at #1 has it right. To be more precise, it’s new, galvanized, heavy-guage wire mesh. Its connection to tetrapods is that it was made by a species of tetrapod. More precisely, a mammalian tetrapod of the Primate order.

    The bird incorporated in the photo is merely a detail, for it is not the focus. If it was meant to the focus, then the picture is poorly composed and the photographer could use some class time in the subject of photography.

  19. #21 Darren Naish
    May 16, 2009

    The photographer has a cheap camera and cannot afford a better one.

  20. #22 Alan Kellogg
    May 16, 2009

    Yes, Darren, I was being cruel in the post above. Your mistake was putting the mesh into focus, instead of the bird. The subject of a photograph is not what you thought you were taking a picture of, the subject of a photograph is what is in focus in the picture. Looks to me like you were relying on an auto-focus feature, not realizing that in shots like this the auto-focus will focus the lens on the most prominent object. In this case the mesh. For a shot like the one you wanted to make you need to manually focus, so that the object you had in mind is sharp while foreground objects such as new, galvanized, large gauge wire meshes are out of focus.

  21. #23 DDeden
    May 17, 2009

    Albino squirrel, hiding behind a plastic “owl”, and of course the dark tree snake or slow worm crawling on the mesh, blends in perfectly, hardly even noticed…

  22. #24 Darren Naish
    May 17, 2009

    For a shot like the one you wanted to make you need to manually focus

    My crappy camera does not have manual focus: only auto. I could not get it to focus on the o – – mystery animal, and decided that the shot was good enough. And, at the time, I didn’t realise anyone else would ever see the shot 🙂

  23. The photographer has a cheap camera and cannot afford a better one.

    C’mon, man! Don’t you know you have to suffer for your art? Spending three weeks food money on a camera is just the kind of suffering that will allow you to suffer for your art because, as you may have read, you have to suffer for your art.

    Fuji makes a good modified point-and-shoot with all kinds of focal, exposure and aperture options, along with a Nikor lense, for around $300 or so. I’ve had one for a few years and it is durable enough to have survived about 15 forest fires. And it still takes good pictures. The photographer (me) needs serious help, but the camera is good.

  24. #26 ginasketch
    May 17, 2009

    Pigeons are unstoppable, man. They remind me of the Hydra. Shoot one and 3 appear.

  25. #27 Alan Kellogg
    May 17, 2009

    In that case, it wasn’t cheap enough.

    Animal Planet here in the colonies used to air a Canadian nature program featuring an entemologist who also wrote his own songs. He took his pictures using a cheap 110 film camera with a really crappy lens. But, if you knew the focal point you could get some good pictures. And that’s what he did. Died of a sudden, and the world of bad camera photography lost a champion.

  26. #28 mus
    May 17, 2009

    Darren, a trick you can use is to focus on something which roughly the same distance away from whatever it is you’re trying to take a pic of, and then move your camera to the actual thing you’re taking a picture of. It’s annoying, but it’s actually sometimes faster and easier than manual focus. Especially if it’s bright out and you can’t see the screen very well or something.

    Animal Planet here in the colonies used to air a Canadian nature program featuring an entemologist who also wrote his own songs.

    Died of a sudden, and the world of bad camera photography lost a champion.

    OMG! The nature nut? He died?!!! I used to watch him all the time when I was little!!! oh no!!!!

  27. #29 mus
    May 17, 2009

    PS. Oh… I guess you were talking about someone else. Acorn the nature nut is still alive and kicking, as far as I can tell.

  28. #30 DDeden
    May 28, 2009

    It ain’t a winged cat?

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