Posts Tagged 'mammals'


Our only marsupial, the Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana, commonly called possum, is plenty familiar with the city. But, being nocturnal, they aren’t seen all that often. This one seems to have lingered past sunrise, at a favored food source: the garbage pails.Remember, these critters are highly resistant to rabies. If they’re snarling at you it means you’re too damn close. And they will faint from stress, the famous “playing possum” trick.


Would there were an antidote to political rabies! That most overrated of Senators, John McCain, yesterday achieved a notoriety even worse than inflicting Sarah Palin on the nation. It’s traditional not to speak ill of the dead (evidently they can’t hear you), so let me get this in now while there is still life in the old bastard.

Stop the car! Stop the car!

Get into those grasses, youngster! There are hazards all about. Sylvilagus floridanus on the verge. In this other case, stop the feet! The bunny froze right at the edge of a path. So did we. Rabbit at mid-chew.

Reading print is actively better for you than scanning a screen in terms of comprehension and memorization. It seems that we shouldn’t really separate the visual from the spatial and the physical, yet those that are doing so will inherit the world (well, briefly anyway).

Also, this one is longish for the internet, but there ya go: on the rise of globalization and how we got here.


A tremendous crashing in the wetland thickets to our left brought forth this buck. He leaped into the meadow trailing phragmites from his rack. Note that the animal is tagged [#326?]; looks like this means he was given a vasectomy in an effort to cut Staten Island’s White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population.This was at Mount Loretto State Unique Area on the weekend. Yesterday, we ran into a few more there, including this one right out in the open on the other side of the pond. Another was bedded down in the meadow not ten feet from the path. He let us walk by, but when we returned, and our eyes met, he skedaddled. And another.
Then we saw four in Clay Pit Ponds State Preserve. This one, one of a cluster of three in the cattails, looked just past fawn-hood.

Speaking of big critters, we also saw a couple of Wild Turkeys and a male Ring-necked Pheasant, and heard some Indian Peafowl, while on island.

Tree Chipper

We usually see Eastern Chipmunks on the ground, but this is your periodical reminder that they’re fine tree-climbers. That’s how they predate bird nests. This one is about 15 feet up. Cheeks bulging with chow.

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.

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).


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.


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