Posts Tagged 'mammals'

Squirrel Downtime

Sciurus carolinensisTwo Eastern Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) in curious resting positions on branches.Sciurus carolinensis

Armchair Naturalist at Sunrise

IMG_5122A Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) scouting out House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) cribs as a scrum of sparrows protest.  Bit late in the year for eggs or young in these hideaways, innit? IMG_5125

The Temp is Too Damn High

Trachemys scriptaIt’s getting so that “unseasonable” is no longer an appropriate word for never-ending autumn. This is the new seasonableness. On Friday, which set records around the region for high temperatures in a year shaping up to be the hottest on record, two Red-eared Sliders were sunning themselves in Prospect Park.Tamias striatusA couple of Chipmunks were out and about. This one stuffed a hickory nut into it’s right cheek and lopsidedly zipped down into a hole to store it for later.ChrysopidaeAnd the next day, a Green Lacewing (Chrysopidae) flitted through the air before resting on this cherry in the Flatbush Gardener’s patch.

Persimmon Bandit

Yesterday’s pictured Persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) were not quite ripe. Here’s another: Diospyros virginianaLooks ripe, but it’s still pretty hard. And they really have to be smushy soft to eat. Then they are perfumed and delicious. But bite too soon and you’ll get a mouthful of astringent tannins that you’ll rue all day long. Bleagh! Funny thing, though, there never seem to be many ripe ones. Could be bipedal foragers, of course, but I suspect that the four-legged are busy as well with this bounty. We’ve got Raccoons, Woodchuck, and:possumThis Oppossum (Didelphis virginiana) is immortalized in an American Museum of Natural History diorama. It’s going after the fruits, although they look mighty unripe here, but then it is supposed to be getting dark in this scene.

American Persimmon is also known as Possumwood in some parts of the country. And the animals seems to be disseminators of the tree, since the seeds survive the fantastic voyage through their intestinal tracks.


IMG_4379I was surprised to see one of the best birding spots in Green-Wood Cemetery shaved down to the bone recently. This was an impenetrable thicket along the flank of the hill overlooking the Sylvan Water, perfect for songbirds and woodchuck.

Two woodchuck dens are exposed here now, but then most of the cemetery’s dens are out in the open, not buried behind dense underbrush. There’s very little underbrush in Green-Wood: it is, after all, a garden cemetery. This is why, in general, it is not as good bird habitat as Prospect Park, which has more woodlands and understory. Many birds like to forage at the edges of woodlands, which they can retreat to when threatened. I was watching some sparrows, grass specialists, and noting how they kept inside or just at the edge of a shadow of a tree, making them harder to see.

In Green-Wood recently, I counted five separate woodchuck dens. I only saw one of whistle-pigs, though.Marmota monax

Marmota monax

Marmota monaxA week later, another sighting, this one rather smaller. One of this year’s crop? It looked at us and moseyed behind a large tree.

Union Sq Squrl


The Way of All Flesh

IMG_4143The other day I wondered what our Common Ravens are eating. They are greatly attracted to carrion; but how much carrion is found in New York City? This young Raccoon was gone the next day: presumably staff cleaned it away. The natural process of decomposition had already begun. Scavenger wasps and flies that lay their eggs on carrion were at work. IMG_4145Granted, this may gross some people out; but without these insects, without all the other carrion-phages, the bacteria, insects, birds, mammals, we would be neck-high in corpses.


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