August 2022 Natural Mystery Answered

Our August natural mystery proved to be a real challenge--and it is clear that some of you embrace challenges. Congratulations to Kirsten Welge for successfully identifying the original owner of this skull.

This is the skull of a Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis). Once again, I'll turn it over to Kirsten, for her excellent interpretation:


Process of Interpretation:

Using skull size, we have six candidates. I compared features seen in the illustrations to our mystery skull:

Exactly right. Kirsten deftly avoided an easy pitfall in her interpretation--presuming that the date the skull was found correlates with when the bird was present. Sign often persist longer in an environment than tracks do, and this can be especially true of skulls. Under the right conditions, skulls may appear nearly unchanged for months or even years. This bird may have died last fall and been hidden under leaves and snow until its remains were spotted in June.

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