Where is the most unusual place you've found an organism?

Where is the most unusual place you’ve found (and recorded) an organism? By place I don’t mean an iNat standard or community curated place or even a lat/long but rather a general place like on a bus or on a building.

I am preparing a webinar for after school staff about iNaturalist. Because this group has even fewer tech resources than teachers (and often serves younger students) my objective is to encourage observation and noting of organisms around them to overcome some of the “blindness” that we have to wilderness.

The low tech activity we will be reviewing is a bingo game of generic places where you might find an organism. (Bingo cards. There are 50 distinct cards) There are multiple ways to play, everything from a group hike and whoever finishes with a Bingo wins to you have one week to get a black out , crossing off a square by adding the taxonomic or species name.

I want to start off this section of the webinar with stories from iNatters about where they have found and observed organisms. A little back story is always fun and if possible include a link to the observation.


One of my favourite strange kororā sightings was trying to rob the fuel station!

There’s also the delightful famous pair that have repeatedly tried stealing sushi


Under our 5th wheel, directly underneath the master bedroom, in the hitch, there was a nest of House Sparrows. We had been hearing the chirping, but could never find out where the nest was, until we looked in the hitch. Then we finally got an observation of some adorable chicks. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/51904308


Aww, that’s adorable!

Everywhere! But what a fun idea. Some of my favorites:

at an airshow - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36999067
trying to go to work - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/33844626
on top of a lighthouse - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/34544783


Any place of every house I visit.
In a flower pot in my univesity. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/38503411
My own leg. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/49802729


Raiding flowers at a cemetery:

Apparently not that unusual, except that I’d searched everywhere else for this bird – a lifer for me – in its natural habitats but without success.


I always get a smile when I see observations of the House Sparrows living at big airports, hopping around in the waiting areas. Or in a mall, at the food court.


Here is my observation of a house sparrow living in a terminal at JFK:



Here is a stable fly, on my leg, biting me as I waited at the bus stop.



It’s not on iNaturalist, but years ago I was trying to water a hanging plant and this small passerine (I think it was a Carolina wren?) started trying to drive me off.

I kept watering anyway (because, “Hey, that’s my plant, bird, and it needs water; what is your issue, psycho-bird?”) but afterward decided to peek in the container, and there was a little nest with an egg in there.

I felt like a jerk.


It seems to surprise a lot of people that the variegated leaves on this common attractive garden plant are in fact caused by a virus:



A hummingbird Built her nest in a turnbuckle that attached a cable to the roof Of the gift shop at the Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Garden in Palm Desert, CA. It was literally the most heavily trafficked paved area of the whole garden.

  1. When I opened my car door to get in to go to work, right inside on the weathervane striping was a nice little green crab spider ( https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/49180303 ). I have no idea how it did not get smushed or die, but it hung out “in” my door frame for a few days, popping out now and then to say hi :)

  2. It’s raining and dusk and I get in my car at work. As I start backing up, there is this huge smudge and it’s almost fully overshadowed, over the backup camera. Huh, I think. Must be the rain. Get home, park, and walk around to go inside and there is a really nice lil orb weaver chillin’. Apparently it was a good spot for a web out of the rain. It was dark & raining so I didn’t look for species ID.

  3. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been relaxing somewhere, and look down, and there is a butterfly on my shoe :) For example: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/53074987


An historic Lima cemetery - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/57511606
The back of my truck - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/57515536
With a bicycle embedded - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/57518181
Consuming an alleyway in Kathmandu - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/57512361


Oh and another one!
I’m also a professional dog trainer, and at our facility we have, of course, the little metal boxes with rolls of poo bags for clients who forget theirs or whatever. Anyway, a few years ago, we heard chirping from one such box. What the heck? Nest full of birds! We put up a sign to not disturb them :) That same pair has used the poo bag holder three summers in a row now! Sometimes even raising multiple clutches.
…I really should get a photo of the birds and throw them up here for ID (I don’t know my birds…)


I haven’t put an observation of a rogue tomato on here, but I love those. When I worked in New York City I’d see some every so often. The NY Times has written about this phenomenon: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/dining/tomato-east-river-piling-brooklyn-bridge-park.amp.html.

Also from my time commuting in: this observation of a drain fly (Clogmia albipunctata) growing in the NJ Transit bathroom at Penn Station NY.


Unfortunately no photos, but at my office any truck that’s left parked for a couple weeks or more can potentially become a House Finch nest site. One nest was on part of the grill frame in front of the radiator (visible only with the hood up) and another was inside a truck’s tailgate, accessed from the hole where the tailgate latch had been.


Clogmia is a great name for a drain fly.


The first one that comes to mind was before I learned about iNaturalist. My son (who was then 9 yrs old) went out back to jump on our trampoline. He put his hand on the mat that goes around the outside and a giant moth dropped from underneath the mat onto the grass. He was thrilled and called the entire family outside to come see it. The 2nd pic is of him holding the moth in his hand, so you can kind of get a feel for how big it is.