May is the month when fawns are born but it’s rare that you ever see them.
Fawns hide from predators by not moving as they sleep in dappled sunlight that matches their fur. Their mothers move away from them so the adults don’t attract attention to their fawns’ location. At night the family reunites.
Sometimes the family picks a “hiding” place that’s visible. In 2011 Jennie Barker found a fawn in her suburban Pittsburgh backyard.
When I see photographs of monkeys I think they’re at least the size of chimpanzees but this monkey, native to Panama and northern Colombia, is only the size of a squirrel.
Geoffroy’s tamarins (Saguinus geoffroyi) are small colorful members of the marmoset family with bodies only 9 inches long but tails up to 15 inches. They live together in family groups of three to five individuals, traveling through the trees to find their favorite foods of insects and fruit. The brave ones visit bird feeders.
Bird feeders in the tropics are different from ours at home. Pennsylvania birds are attracted to seeds, suet and mealworms but tropical birds eat fruit so Panamanians put bananas, mangoes and papaya in their feeders. This inevitably attracts the monkeys.
At Cerro Azul we met a homeowner who feeds Geoffroy’s tamarins in her backyard every day. If she isn’t quick to fill the feeders they whine at her from the trees, but they are shy and won’t come down unless she is alone.
We all stood far away and Donna Foyle took pictures while the homeowner stabbed fruit chunks with the tip of a knife to hand it to the monkeys. Later she handed fruit to them directly.
Squirrels are scarce in the Panamanian jungle. We saw only one in Panama and it was at the airport hotel. So Geoffroy’s tamarins fill the niche of squirrels at the bird feeders.
Bobcats hunt just like house cats. They crouch and wait for food to walk by, then pounce on it. This technique means they have to be camouflaged so their fur color varies depending on where they live.
The bobcat Don Weiss photographed in Florida, shown at top and below, has dark fur and small spots.
This bobcat in Arizona is much paler with big spots. Donna Memon noticed it in her Tucson backyard when one of them (a family of three!) growled from a distance as if to say, “Stay away. I’m worried that you’re dangerous.”
It’s normal that the bobcats would be wary of us. We humans and our dogs are their #1 threat.
Bobcats can’t outrun dogs but they can climb … even on telephone poles.
So why aren’t bobcats in western Pennsylvania? Well, maybe they’re moving in.
In the mid 1970’s, bobcats were considered so scarce in Pennsylvania that they were listed as Vulnerable. Back then they lived completely isolated from humans and those locations were disappearing fast. However, the bobcats adapted. By 2000 their population had grown enough that the Game Commission allowed limited trapping and now, almost 20 years later, our bobcat population is still growing and expanding its range.
Perhaps bobcats will make it to Schenley Park some day. 🙂
(photo credits: bobcats on the ground by Don Weiss and Donna Memon. Map and bobcat on wires from Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the original)
Native to Africa and Asia, pangolins feed on ants and termites by digging up their colonies. It’s a painful business without protection so the pangolin’s body has built-in defenses against biting, swarming ants (shown in the video).
Pangolins are protected against ants but they’re at the mercy of humans. Their meat is a delicacy in China and Vietnam and their scales are used in Asian medicine. They’re hunted illegally until extirpated, even in parts of Africa. As a species they’re in severe decline.