Posts Tagged 'mammals'

Chippy

The forecast is calling for a foot of snow. Quite a rollercoaster of weather we’ve been having. Last week, it was up 60 degrees F. The Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) were busy in the sunshine. Don’t let the cuteness fool you: these are pretty effective predators as well as gatherers. They will definitely raid bird nests, for instance.

With the past weekend’s deep drop in temperature, they have probably retreated to their caves to wait this new storm out.

Cling On

Procyon lotor
Procyon lotorIt was a very chilly day.
Procyon lotor

FYI: There was such a demand for my Brooklyn Brainery Where the Wild Things Are NYC class that we’re doing it again on February 28th at 6:30.

Oak Wilt

Damn it! I really wanted to start on a positive note, but the bad news just keeps coming. Oak wilt has been discovered in Brooklyn. This is a lethal fungal infection of oaks and other species, its spores spread by beetles.

img_2116When I was in Green-Wood on Friday, I heard a chipper hard at work. As I got closer, I realized it was grinding up one of my favorite old Red Oaks! That’s about 7 feet of stump still to go. This is the tree whose globular fungal growths, which have nothing to do with the wilt as far as I’ve been able to tell, have piqued my curiosity before. The sixth image down here is what these mushrooms look like when fresh.

Here’s more about the disease.

Oaks are so damn important. Their relationship to a host of life forms, particularly insects and birds, puts them deep within a spreading web of ecological connections (Muir Webs). And we have a lot of oaks here in the city, on the street and in the parks and woodlands.

I mean, it’s a double-whammy: a killer orange fungus soon to be soiling the White House, and a nasty fungal pathogen going after some of our grandest trees.

Douglas Squirrel

Tamiasciurus douglasiiDavid Douglas did get the small, vocal Tamiasciurus douglasii named after him, both ways.

We saw one at Ecola State Park and a few more at Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, where this one was photographed well enough to present to you, but mostly we heard them. They let you know whose woods these are…

(Looks like some blood-gorged ticks there on the upper arm and in the ear.)

Woodchuck

Marmota monaxMarmota monax keeps an eye on you.Marmota monaxYet another den! Do they keep moving around? This general area has been the home of at least one for a while, but I think this particular den is newish.Marmota monaxFacing the sinking sun of another day.

Scat Hill

scatRat scat if I’m not mistaken. Scatologists, what say you? Found at the top of the taller of the two new hills on Governor’s Island. Seventy feet above sea-level according to the marker.
panoA panorama from the height. In the distance from the left: Jersey City, Manhattan, Brooklyn. (Click for a larger version.)

You can see the homestead from up there, with enhancement: 2.75 miles away on the moraine, with Sunset Park’s billowing wall of trees behind it. Elevation at my corner is 140 feet above sea-level. Add four stories for my view from the moraine. The park rises 30 more feet behind me. Meanwhile, the highest natural point in Brooklyn is Battle Hill in Green-Wood at 220 feet. The next highest points — Mount Prospect behind the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and Lookout Hill in Prospect: are all part of the same Harbor Hill moraine, a storied jumble of glacial till.

The Trouble With Tibbles

img_0140Tibbles is right up there in the roll of famous cats, along with Hodge, who has a statue in Gough Square; Mrs. Chippy; and Unsinkable Sam, originally Oskar, who abruptly abandoned the Kriegsmarine for the Royal Navy and then proceeded to survive two more ships going down.

Tibbles was the pet of Lyall the lighthouse keeper on Stephens Island, off the coast of New Zealand. She was first brought to the island in 1894, evidently already pregnant, so it was either Tibbles or one of her offspring who ate the last of the island’s endemic wrens, a rare flightless passerine. Over a hundred cats were hunted down on the island in 1899, but it was already too late for Traversia lyalli.

Along with the Stephens Island Wren, cats have helped cause the extinction of 122 other species of birds; 25 species of reptiles; and 27 species of mammals. They kill many millions of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects each year in the U.S. alone — the numbers are highly contested, but the thing about cats is that they are “subsidized predators,” fed by their keepers, which makes them (50% of the 86 million pet cats in the US are allowed to roam free) able to survive at extraordinarily high densities outside the house. Another 80 million or so cats are feral, outside all the time, and some of these are also fed, or subsidized, by humans as well, meaning they continue to do their thing out there. k10809A new book details this slaughter, its implications, and the struggle to stop it. The cat lobby has chosen, in classic style, to challenge the science and not the enormous problem. (This strategy goes back at least to the chemical industry’s response to Rachel Carson.)

I like cats. I like dogs, too. I grew up with both as pets. It seems to me a peculiarly limited mind that must distinguish itself between being a “cat person” or a “dog person.” But I am whole-heartedly on the side of all the other species against the cats.  This is an invasive species run absolutely amok.

If you have a pet cat, you must not let it out. It’s obviously healthier for the cat, too.

For the armies of feral cats, Trap, Neuter, & Release (TNR) programs superficially sound like a good idea, but they presume continuous management & funding since the supply of cats from fertile  domestic cats and the pet industry remains unchallenged. Meanwhile, the individual TNR’ed cat continues to kill during its lifetime. Feral cats have to be removed from habitat where they don’t belong.

Pet owners helped create this problem, but like consumers everywhere they don’t really want to take responsibility for it.img_9785This cat has an enclosed porch she can use, which lets her get plenty of fresh air but keeps her from stalking the animals she sees outside (we saw pigeons, doves, squirrels, cardinals, and a hummingbird in this Park Slope backyard over a few hours of lazy summer attention). Cat patios (“catios”) are a thing now; friends of mine have made window-box versions. Turns out to be pretty easy to stop a cat from what it wants to do. Rather less so for people.


Share

Bookmark and Share

Join 461 other followers

Twitter

  • Osprey are loud. But nothing beats the falsetto meow-roar of the Indian Peafowl. 12 hours ago
Nature Blog Network

Archives