Posts Tagged 'mammals'

May Day

Some mammals for Monday and May Day.Did you ever wonder why they, and we, are called mammals? I have to admit I never did until last week.
Linnaeus came up with the term Mammalia in 1758, from the Latin mammae, meaning the breasts. This we all know. Yet everything else Linnaeus named is based on male characteristics. His botanical system, for instance, is based on the male sex parts of plants. So why not the hairy quadrupeds and bipeds with three ear bones, fur, four-chambered hearts, etc., too? Why not John Ray’s term Pilosa (hairy animals)? Or, sticking with the milk part, the Lactantia or Sugentia, both of which mean “the suckling ones”? Therein lies a tale which I’m writing for work. We shall return to this question.
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I like the return of May Day as a radical holiday. Get out there and smell the flowers while you act up.

New Point Comfort

What’s all this, then? At the limits of my telephoto. An observation platform at the tip of Mathews County, poking into the Chesapeake. And out there, a dead cetacean of some kind being recycled.Bald Eagles were nearby. Posted one is older, but not quite in full adult plumage.There was another juvenile on a nearby island.But it was the gulls who were doing most of the work. Overhead, a few more eagles.
And another Baldie at a great distance, on a sandbar. So it always pays to scan the horizon. On some pilings out there, an unusual but rather unmistakable silhouette: Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).

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.


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