Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tis Autumn and Seasonal Hyperphagia Is in Full Swing

And here we have one of the resident Eastern Chipmunks, Tamias striatus, stuffing his cheek pouches to the bursting point as the seasonal hyperphagia has him eating as much as possible, and storing as much as possible in his burrow.  Chipmunks are actually small squirrels and this species is the only surviving member of the chipmunk subgenus (or genus, depending on who is classifying them) Tamias. 

Chipmunk wasn't the only hyperphagia "victim" of the day.
His feeding floor partner the Eastern Grey (or Gray) Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, has been working on her winter fat storage for some time.  Note the rolls of fat around her neck.  And she's managed them with a baffle on the pole of the sunflower seed feeder.
A Grey Squirrel factoid:  These squirrels were introduced to the UK.  They have displaced the indigenous Red Squirrel in many parts of Britain and are now working on Ireland.
Humans really should be more careful.
Donegal Browne   

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bird Seed Isn't Just For Birds Any More!

The other night I saw Pyewacket the cat moving in a particularly stealthy way behind the curtain that covers the patio doors.  I peered out and there was a possum under one of the feeders and the possum wasn't Fluffy. 

 Fluffy ordinarily appears after there have been a few good snowfalls.

This Opossum has much darker feet than Fluffy, so was immediately dubbed Black Sox.  And while Fluffy drags her tail, Black Sox keeps her nearly naked particularly meaty appendage curled up in the air.  

And a refresher, remember the big difference between the front feet of a possum and the back feet?  If not, take another look above.

This was the only semi-decent photo I got of Black Sox and most were just bad in the usual way.  If I didn't use flash the night animal appears amazingly fuzzy in the shot as it continues to "vacuum eat" through the exposure or I do use flash and get a tremendous reflection off the patio door obscuring the animal altogether. 

But this particular night, I ended up with,  well, I guess you could call it The Radioactive Possum.
You'd think Black Sox was covered in mirror ball  hair.

Then last night Cardiac the kitten was behind the patio door curtain doing what I perceived as her/his version of THERE'S AN OPOSSUM OUT THERE.

I flicked off the kitchen light and flicked on the outside light. Possums don't react to sudden light change Then whipped the curtain around myself crouched down to help obscure my shape and Cardiac shot back into the kitchen as obviously a new game was beginning.  

I looked up and saw....
 S K U N K!  

And skunk was only a few feet from the back door.  But skunk appeared to be as unfazed by sudden light as Fluffy and Black Sox appear to be. 

 Note there was no rise in skunk's tail.  Thank goodness.

Of course I was on the other side of the glass door, and wouldn't get any skunk juice in my eyes, but the back step wouldn't likely be the same for a good while if Skunk took a shot at me.

I was mulling the situation, took a picture, then leaned the camera extremely close to the glass  for the next  one and just then Cardiac the Kitten who was on the other side of the curtain undoubtedly watching a vertical curtain version of the Thingie Under the Bed Covers that cats are so fond ofShe  leapt at it.  She got the curtain and me as well.  I jerkedThe camera thumped the glass door Skunk did a little lightening hop placing her dangerous end towards us and her tail shot up.

I froze.  

Cardiac did not.

Cardiac continued to climb my hunched back and then swing on the curtain from the other side.

I waited.  And waited some more. 

Skunk's tail went to half mast. 
 I crept out from under the curtain.

Nabbed the kitten.

Turned off the light.

And Cardiac went to bed.

Once again I read the incorrect information that only Great Horned Owls eat skunk.

Not true.  They may be one of the few animals that kill skunks.  That I can't say.

But I have seen a fox and a Red-tailed Hawk duel over a roadkilled skunk.

And I've seen video of a Red-tail bringing a skunk to the nest to feed eyasses. 

Another factoid concerning skunks--There were two species of skunks in WisconsinThe Striped Skunk as was tonight's visitor and the smaller shyer Spotted Skunk.

I've always longed to see a Spotted Skunk as they are the little fellows who sometimes stand on their front paws, back paws and tail to the sky, to spray interlopers.  

Unfortunately according to the latest research,  the Spotted Skunk has been extirpated from the state and are deeply threatened in the few other small areas in other states in which they are known.   

How very sad. 

 Donegal Browne