An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

Submit Your Nature Mystery Photo!

The height of this bark stripping, the diameter of the individual “strips,” and the fact that they are ragged only at the top indicates that a moose has been dining on the bark of this tree.


Animal signs, from tracks, marking,  scat, dens, signs of eating, etc., have always intrigued me.  I think the element of mystery pulls me in, and gathering as many clues as possible engages me like no other aspect of natural history.  Often I cannot interpret the whole story that the signs tell, but usually a part of it reveals itself to me.  I think I am not alone in my love of “reading” these tales, as over the years others have shared their curiosity about such mysteries with me.

I would like to take the opportunity that this blog offers to extend an invitation to readers to send me photographs and written descriptions of “stories” they’ve encountered outdoors–particularly those you haven’t been able to decipher.  The challenge of interpretation is the fun part for me.

From past experience I know that the more details that are available to the nature detective, the better the chances are that a mystery will be solved.  Measurements are crucial, whether it’s a scraping in the ground,  incisors on a piece of bone or tracks in mud or snow (both individual tracks as well as distance between sets) or the height of markings on a tree.  Please include all the details you’ve observed and collected, such as the presence or absence of nail marks in a track; whether a rubbed branch is shredded at both the top and bottom of the rub, or just the top; and the habitat in which the sign was discovered.  Keen observational skills are the key to the successful solving of any mystery.  It goes without saying that the sharper the photograph, the better the chance of accurate interpretation.

If you would like to submit a photograph, with a written description of your observations, I would be happy to try and help interpret it, to the best of my ability.  I will get back to you, regardless of the extent of my success.  Now and then I will, with the permission of the photographer, share a photograph with blog readers, sometimes with an interpretation and sometimes asking for viewer input to help solve the mystery.  Together we can hopefully all enjoy this form of interpretive natural history mystery solving.

To submit a photo:

Send a brief description of why you took the submitted photo, as well as the location and approximate date, your name, where you live, your email address and a digital version of the image (quality should be good enough for me to look at properly but low enough resolution to send via email) to my attention at: .

My award-winning book NATURALLY CURIOUS is available online and at your favorite bookstore. Here’s the link to my publisher’s website, where you can order a copy of your own today BUY NOW.


Watch the book trailer for the new edition of NATURALLY CURIOUS!


10 responses

  1. I have a bunch of mountain lady slippers growing in near our home. There are 54 blooms on one plant, have you ever seen this many on one plant? Michelle Saurette

    July 5, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    • Can you send me a photograph? ( ) I don’t know where you live, or what species you’re referring to, and would love to!

      July 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    • Michelle, I’m not sure where you live. There is a Mountain Lady’s Slipper out west (Cypripedium montanum)that has one to three blossoms/plant, but I have a feeling you’re probably not out west…is there any chance you could send me a picture (via email: ) so I could see what species you’re referring to? Thanks!

      June 5, 2014 at 7:37 pm

  2. barbara

    Mary, How do I go about submitting a photo of a skeleton I can’t identify? BB

    June 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm

  3. Wallie Hammer

    Please sign me up again!

    June 14, 2016 at 8:42 am

  4. Robert Burz

    Fascinating blog. Hi Mary. Maybe you can help me figure out what I’m looking at being that I have never seen this insect before. Oh, I see I can’t upload the file. Anyway, this year I started to grow mushrooms in logs. Blue oyster and shiitake. Yesterday I found this insect hanging out on one of the logs. Today there were four and one managed to get past the wax and looked to be laying eggs into the plug. I captured it as well as photographed it. Can you please help me identify it? If you write back I can send photos.

    May 30, 2018 at 7:36 pm

  5. Eva Fierst

    Hello Mary
    I just sent a photo and a video clip to you. The keyboard function did not let me finish my text: I have a few photos, portraits rather, of the mantis. But the videos are documenting it feasting and holding the woolly caterpillar between its ‘forearms’.
    Eva Fierst from Northampton, MA, enthusiastic reader of your blog.

    September 26, 2020 at 8:00 am

  6. Brenda S Metzler

    Dear Mary,

    I just spent 20 minutes watching a bat skim the surface of our pond. It flies, then briefly touches the water’s surface before lifting and circling to repeat. Is that normal mid-day bat behavior? It was amazing to witness!

    I hope you are well and enjoying Spring!
    Warm regards,

    April 12, 2022 at 2:22 pm

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