Posts Tagged 'mammals'

Some Brooklyn Mammals

Sciurus carolinensisSquirrel sunning. Procyon lotorRaccoon snoozing.
Tamias striatusChipmunk being very still.Marmota monaxWoodchuck being elusive. Check out the ground-hogging here on this slope: a duplex! The animal was peeking out of the nearer, top, hole, but vanished into the burrow before I could turn on my cameraSciurus carolinensisSquirrel eating a… wait a minute, that’s a green-dyed Easter egg, more than a week after Easter!


Sciurus carolinensis


Sciurus carolinensisSquirrels (Sciurus carolinensis).Sciurus carolinensis

Feral Brooklyn

c6I spend a fair amount of time exploring Brooklyn’s edges. These border zones are absolutely agog with feral cats. Here a few recent sightings.c1The standard wild city feline is a black and white job. Tiger-striped numbers probably come second. But there are all types, including the long-hair below, who looked like a slumming debutant.c7A street-side feeding station on 39th St; there’s always some well-meaning, but highly selective “animal lover” who encourages this plague. One or more of these people at Floyd Bennett Field’s Ecology Village has/have left the trash of dozens of empty cat food cans stretched along the edges of woods.c2Some of these cats are pretty cute and adorable looking. But the issue is that Brooklyn’s only part of one of the worst examples of invasive species running amuck.c4c5The damage feral cats do to wildlife is mind-boggling: 20 billion individual birds and mammals killed.c3What a mess! An irresponsible pet industry; idiots who don’t spay/neuter their pets; fools who release their animals when they never should have gotten one in the first place; the rat-feeders (because they are also obviously feeding rats); and, of course, those vocal defenders of such feral cats, unaware and/or unconcerned about their avian and mammalian toll. This is human-made problem. How shall we solve it?

I wrote about the science behind the problem for JSTOR Daily.

Raccoon Remains

Procyon lotorMagic-hour light on road-kill, scavenged, and partially petrified Raccoon (Procyon lotor).Procyon lotorOh, and good morning!

Parkman’s Unending Buffalo

“The country before us was now thronged with buffalo,” wrote the young Bostonian Francis Parkman at the beginning of “The Chase” in The Oregon Trail, his book about his adventures out in the west in 1846. (I was immediately reminded of the similarly titled chapters in Moby-Dick, published five year later; turns out Melville read and praised Parkman’s “true wild-game flavor.”)

Parkman writes that “we waged an unrelenting war” against the bull buffalos. While his small party ate a lot of buffalo meat – dried, it was a major component of their diet on the trail – that was usually from the cows. When they were well-supplied with meat, they would sometimes just take the tongue. For the bulls, it was just the tail, as a trophy. He and his friends were still using muzzle-loading rifles, so the damage they could do was to a certain extent limited. A very skilled hunter could kill “five or six cows in a single chase” loading each shot on horseback, often by holding the rifle balls in his mouth.

“Thousands of them might be slaughtered without causing any detriment to the species,” wrote Parkman, about the male buffalo. Uh-huh. Hasn’t every fisher and hunter said something similar since time immemorial? There’s just too many of ’em for us to do any damage… they’ll always be here. Didn’t the Canadian cod-fishers say it? And before them, didn’t the people who crossed over Beringia say that about what we now call the extinct megafauna? This stuff’ll last forever, boys! And the peoples who made it to Australia? These animals will never end, mates.

By the 1880s, there were just a few hundred bison left from the millions that had been there two generations earlier.

Winter Sounds

Sciurus carolinensisOver all, the wind in the trees, like an overtone. Cardinals chipping. Blue Jays screeching. Two trees, or perhaps trunks of the same, rubbing together. The tapping of a woodpecker. White-thoated Sparrows scratching in the leaves. The gnawing of a squirrel on a nut.


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