Strange Cries in the Night

The other day, I woke up at 4:44 a.m. to a weird sound in the backyard. It was just about time for the local Northern Cardinal to start up with his “what-cheers,” the regular crack-of-dawn soundtrack around here since way back in late winter, but this was nothing I’ve ever heard before and if it was a bird it was in very bad shape. It wasn’t at all human, but it sure sounded like distress. Like a screechy toy being tortured by a cat sick to death of the damned dog’s stuff. Or perhaps like a Republican who had built a career on fulminating against sex and was suddenly caught in the act of doing it.

I turned on the outside light: in the corner were two Raccoons: parent and cub. I suppose the youngster had gotten into the cul-de-sac of a yard and couldn’t figure a way to get out and so set off wailing. The parent mouthed the cub by the scruff of the neck and took it to the stairs leading to the upstair’s neighbor’s balcony. They continued upstairs, caterwauling all the while.

This was the first time I’ve seen a Raccoon here, although I’ve seen plenty elsewhere in the borough — clambering down the Union St. Bridge towards the Gowanus for instance. I wonder if the empty building next door is where they hang?

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