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Mystery Photo

1-7-16 mystery photo 1295Do you know what this appendage is? Hints: 1. It is less than an inch long. 2. It is not what it may first appear to be. Please post responses under “comments” on my Naturally Curious blog (before looking at others’ comments, please).

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59 responses

  1. Pat

    It looks like the “oil” gland on either a turkey or other fowl.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:20 am

  2. Rob Anderegg

    Uropygial gland.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:29 am

  3. Sara

    It looks like the structure located above a birds vent that they can move as needed. Or maybe it’s an ear from some kind of bird.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:34 am

  4. Mary ~ I SO love your blog and e-mails, as well as your books. Good friend, Nelson Jaquay, has gifted us Milkweed Visitors and Naturally Curious. As for the mystery photo ~ how about a uropygial gland? I remember this from college ornithology class ….. some years ago.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:42 am

  5. Darlene

    Preening gland

    January 6, 2016 at 7:48 am

  6. Susannah

    Two things it could be come to mind straight off, a teat and a penis. Not sure the quills in either area would be such primary looking quills, somehow. Maybe it’s a super close up photo and quills are smaller than they look? Neither would be a welcome quill-tangle situation, nursing nor mating. A little too hose-looking for a gland, but maybe. Scent gland?

    January 6, 2016 at 7:49 am

    • Lea Stewart

      Only mammals have mammary glands. This is a bird, as evidenced by the feather shafts.

      January 6, 2016 at 10:31 am

  7. Susannah

    Forgot to mention, I think it’s a porcupine!!

    January 6, 2016 at 7:50 am

  8. Dara Johnson

    Star nose of a mole

    January 6, 2016 at 7:59 am

  9. Preening gland on a bird?

    January 6, 2016 at 8:02 am

  10. Barry E. Blust

    I’m thinking this is the oil gland of a bird that is used when preening.

    January 6, 2016 at 8:08 am

  11. Dolores Elliott

    Bird’s oil gland

    January 6, 2016 at 8:20 am

  12. Kerry Ryer-Parke

    oil gland on a bird?

    January 6, 2016 at 8:20 am

  13. David Alexander

    Looks like the uropygial, or preening, gland on a fowl

    January 6, 2016 at 8:22 am

  14. melinda meyerhoff

    an infected area around a porcupine quill on a dog?

    January 6, 2016 at 8:29 am

  15. Caroline

    uropygial gland aka oil gland on a bird… maybe a chicken? Not sure what kind of avian dinosaur from that photo 🙂

    January 6, 2016 at 8:46 am

  16. Marilyn

    Definitely a bird. Not natural, I thought, because of the broken feather shafts. But I didn’t realize birds had preening glands…

    January 6, 2016 at 8:47 am

    • Marilyn

      Now I see the feathers are not broken off. Okay, another vote for something I hadn’t known about!

      January 6, 2016 at 8:49 am

  17. Elaine Schmottlach

    porky nipple?

    January 6, 2016 at 8:47 am

  18. Ray

    Porcupine teat

    January 6, 2016 at 8:48 am

  19. Linda Whipple

    Well, upon first observation it looks like some sort of mammary gland. I think it has to do with a bird of some sort due to the small bones exposed so it can’t be a mammary gland. Wait, those other white things that are around the black fur (?), are claws. Something to aide attachment on the bottom of somethings foot?

    January 6, 2016 at 8:49 am

  20. Is it a bird’s “oil gland” for conditioning their feathers?

    January 6, 2016 at 8:52 am

  21. Anya

    Uropygial gland…on a Junco?

    January 6, 2016 at 9:11 am

  22. Technically I’m not sure I would call it an appendage. It’s a preen gland which produces oil to weatherproof bird’s feathers. It’s located on the bird’s back just before the tail.

    January 6, 2016 at 9:14 am

  23. Penny

    Uropygial or preen gland?

    January 6, 2016 at 9:19 am

  24. Susan Peters

    Is it a nose on a star-nosed mole?

    January 6, 2016 at 9:19 am

  25. Sue Sauer

    Star nose of a star nose mole?

    January 6, 2016 at 9:25 am

  26. Wallie

    Nose on a star-nosed mole?

    January 6, 2016 at 9:26 am

  27. JF

    It looks like a bird’s uropygial gland.

    January 6, 2016 at 9:35 am

  28. My first thought also had to do with a star-nosed mole, but that doesn’t seem right, because it’s nothing like a star. Yet another new discovery for me!

    January 6, 2016 at 10:05 am

  29. Brad Wheeler

    I’m guessing that is an oil gland for preening….

    January 6, 2016 at 10:10 am

  30. Liz

    Birdie belly button. 🙂

    January 6, 2016 at 10:17 am

  31. Libby Hillhouse - looks like my chicken!

    an oil gland for preening feathers

    January 6, 2016 at 10:18 am

  32. Debora Cherington(Debi)google and google+

    Good Morning Mary,
    I love your book and all your morning blogs! I am learning so much and pass it on to other nature friends including children. I will hopefully be able to donate to you someday soon.
    Is this the nose/snout of a star-nosed mole?

    January 6, 2016 at 10:19 am

  33. David Taylor

    Is it some sort of parasite on a bird?

    January 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

  34. Mary, I love starting my life of wonderful nature by reading your great blogs! Thank you so much…someday soon I am wanting to and will make a donation. You certainly deserve it.
    I also hope to purchase all your children’s books. I share your blogs,books and knowledge with the children I teach. Your skill is incredible as are your photos.

    Is this mystery photo a nose of a star-nosed mole?

    January 6, 2016 at 10:26 am

  35. Bobbie Rausch

    Could it be a torn dewclaw?

    January 6, 2016 at 10:55 am

  36. Hope McLaughlin

    A young turkey’s wattle

    January 6, 2016 at 11:01 am

  37. Becca

    Oil gland of a bird

    January 6, 2016 at 11:19 am

  38. Peter Kallin

    Looks like an oil gland (sometimes called preen gland) on some type of waterfowl (maybe a coot based on feather color?).

    January 6, 2016 at 11:32 am

  39. The feather shafts tell me it is a bird for starters.
    How about an egg that broke within the bird and a aborted fetus being the end result?
    Bill… WGF Studio53 :<)

    January 6, 2016 at 12:43 pm

  40. charles Astbury


    January 6, 2016 at 12:43 pm

  41. uropygial gland?

    January 6, 2016 at 2:01 pm

  42. Howard P Stoner

    Oil gland on top of the tail. Howard

    January 6, 2016 at 2:35 pm

  43. Dianne Rochford

    something emerging from a membrane

    January 6, 2016 at 3:59 pm

  44. Gwen

    I believe it’s head of a vole

    January 6, 2016 at 4:23 pm

  45. Clyde Jenne

    Is it a porcupine nipple?

    January 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm

  46. jenny simone

    is it a porcupine being born?

    January 6, 2016 at 6:03 pm

  47. Bob

    Wondering if it is a duck penis

    January 6, 2016 at 6:53 pm

  48. Doris Gnauck

    It reminds me of a mole or another burrowing small mammal nose

    January 6, 2016 at 8:24 pm

  49. I know what it is because mine looks just like that..

    January 6, 2016 at 9:14 pm

  50. A bird’s oil gland?

    January 6, 2016 at 11:59 pm

  51. Cheryl Ring

    Uropygial gland?

    January 7, 2016 at 7:57 am

  52. Sarah Sincerbeaux

    Uropygial gland, also sometimes called the preen gland.

    January 7, 2016 at 8:44 am

  53. Wallie Hammer

    Hi Mary,
    Why do I get my Naturally Curious info a day late!? My friend sent me today’s mystery photo yesterday January 6th-
    Just curious-

    January 7, 2016 at 10:04 am

  54. Hi Wallie,
    You are the second person I know that gets NC emails a day late. I’m so sorry. I have no input or involvement in that end of things – WordPress does it all. I will do my best to try and resolve it, but don’t hold your breath – so sorry!

    January 8, 2016 at 7:19 am

  55. Guy Stoye

    Guessing a oil gland of black vulture

    January 12, 2016 at 3:16 pm

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