Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nature Notes: Return of the Lone Wolf

OK, it's not really a wolf. It's a coyote, sort of a "wolf light". But he's here, and he's hunting mice in the back pasture, and I find that an amazing thing to see from my kitchen window.

Coyotes are considered nuisance animals in Indiana, which means they can be shot on sight any time of the year. But they are clever and secretive, and one mother can have as many as twelve in litter, so their numbers are actually growing.

Again, the photos aren't great - window glass, a screen, and considerable distance conspired to ruin the shots. Still, if you click them they get bigger and give a better view.

Coyotes are generally solitary, but they keep in touch with their kind by singing in the night. We rarely see them, though we often hear them howling and yammering to each other after dark. With the barred owls and frogs doing backup, it's a Symphony of the Weird that would do Stephen King proud.

The coyotes are feared and despised by most farmers and suburbanites because pets and small livestock can fall prey to them. And I do worry that Gatsby Cat will one day win his ongoing bid for freedom and end up as a coyote snack. Still, I love knowing that something so wild can still survive in our overdeveloped, tightly regulated world.

In Native American lore, the coyote is a central character, a trickster and a respected brother being. In one tradition, Coyote brings fire to mankind. That's worth a few chickens, I think.

In other news, winter is not going down without a fight. We have a dusting of snow today and freezing temperatures again, but it's the last gasp and we all know it.

Links in This Post:
* Living With the Wily Coyote
* How the Coyote Stole Fire
* Native American Lore

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nature Notes: It's Spring!

Spring has finally arrived here in northern Indiana. Birds are chirping, robins are back, and last night when I got home the frogs were singing!

We usually have daffodils by now. They're late, but they're on the way. Isn't it amazing how tender green shoots can break hard clay soil like this?

Daffodils are my favorite part of spring. Can't wait to see those sunny yellow blossoms!

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nature Notes: Jumping for Joy

Remember this old song?

Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play...

A recent visit from the local deer herd made me think of it as they pranced and romped in the warmer weather and melting snow.

The photos aren't much, taken through dirty double pane windows with the deck and shrouded pool in the way. Still, I thought you might like to see them.

We don't see as many deer here as we used to. A herd of about twenty used to shelter in a pine stand next door, about three hundred mature trees that never were harvested for their intended purpose as Christmas trees. The neighbors cut most of them down this winter. (A rant for another day.) A hard winter, cars, and hunters have taken their toll, too.

Hunters in 2009 killed 132,752 deer in Indiana and 444,047 in Michigan, according to the DNR. And still there are sizable herds. It's sad to think of so many being killed, but imagine the impact on the environment if they were all left to breed.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nature Notes: Strange Bedfellows

Partners in Crime

I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted these two unlikely companions perched on the fence out back.

A closer look revealed that the hawk had the remains of a mouse or vole under its left foot. The crow was hoping for the leftovers.

Danse Macabre

Strangest of all, the crow seemed to be mirroring the positions and motions of the hawk. When the hawk finished its meal, the crow did fly down to the ground to scavenge while the hawk looked on.

P.S. If I were the crow, I'd worry about a hawk looking at me this way:

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.