Cats photoshopped as noir detectives

AMBER LOVE 16-OCT-2017 My work is supported by the generous backers who tolerate my cat stories at and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. Also, buy my books with these handy links below:

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Where we left off…

Detective Inspector Guster Nabu has increased mole patrols at Mole Knoll and things have gotten physical. The seasonal change has much of the wildlife on edge.


DI Guster Nabu decided to give a thorough inspection to the grounds closest to the building. It was almost sunrise. We walked across the yard in the final moments of darkness. It’s when the least amount of traffic comes down the road subjecting us to only a few engine rumbles rather than the nearly constant ones in the afternoon.

Gus in ferns

We headed north past the grotto where the fairies’ mushroom ring surfaced for a few days. Gus doesn’t usually pause for long at the fairy house; though, he does have a particular affinity for the fern garden next to it surrounded by the mossy cinder block wall. That little area is one of his favorite places to visit.

The mossy landscape under our feet made a patchwork quilt of dark and light greens and spots of medium brown soil. We came to the edge and had to cross through the crunchy fallen leaves. My footfall resonated through the morning air and sounded like Frankenstein’s monster clomping through the yard. It often startles Gus as if he’s forgotten I’m only a couple feet away.

Gus in fern garden


I had been keeping my head down because the gnats love to dart into my eyes and ears. As we approached the old Colonial war fort, I noticed a pretty black and white feather. Gus was busy off to my right searching for the kinds of weeds he prefers to chew.

woodpecker feathers

I spotted another feather — small and still bearing a downy end. Then I realized there were quite a number of these black and white feathers around. Gus came over and smelled the area looking for clues.

There was no sign of a body.

There are times when I fail as an investigative assistant. This was one of them. I was not prepared to collect evidence while we were there. I picked up a couple of the feathers and tried to keep them secure in the joke of a “pocket” in my shirt (women’s clothing is scant with decent pockets).

Later on, I went out and collected more, but again, forgot evidence bags! Since I didn’t have suitable pockets, I put them the only place I could stand to considering they were recently stuck in a bird. Goodness, no, not my bra. Ewww. I’ll put my phone there, but not evidence collected from outside. I put the feathers into my sock.

feathers in sock

I loved the patterns on the feathers. The stripes are ever-so subtly off-white. They ranged in length from 2-4 inches. Some were more battle damaged than others. I realized they were probably woodpecker feathers so I asked Gus if we could go around the fort again on our way back to inspect the wooden sides and beams.


It’s possible that one hole I noticed was caused by a woodpecker, but it could also have been there from a mistake in the construction and I never noticed before.

It was time to log the evidence and hit the computer for some research.

We’re not at Batman level where he could insert a hair or playback a sound and have a complete dossier presented to him in seconds (*Ed. Note: watch Batman: The Animated Series, episode 2 “On Leather Wings”). I’m certainly no Batgirl either unless it comes to tracking down just the right gif to include in a post.

Case Findings:

The specimens appear to be from a red-bellied woodpecker. Using my favorite aviary database,, I started with the primary color as black and second color as white. Then narrowed it down to the common area of New Jersey in the US. Based on the length of the feathers, I guessed the size range.


I selected red-bellied woodpecker and confirmed that the feather pattern does indeed match our evidence. Then I stewed on the images for probably thirty minutes or more wondering why they named it red-bellied woodpecker when clearly it has a red head with a white belly.

Image from


The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency has a robust relational database with species that are in our neighborhood cross-referenced to the “real Twitter” – the grapevine gossip and verified news shared between the local humans and fauna.


Gregory Woodrow Pecker was reported missing less than twenty-four hours prior to our discovery. No formal case was opened at that time. It is our assumption that Gregory W. Pecker was attacked by a Cooper’s Hawk or some such bird of prey. There’s a slight chance a local stray cat got Mr. Pecker, but none have been spotted scaling the war fort or the trees around it, except for DI Nabu. It is therefore presumed that Gregory Woodrow Pecker is deceased.

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