Coyotes (Canis latrans) are highly adaptable and very smart about food and humans because their lives depend upon it. Of course they live where food is plentiful but in places like Pennsylvania, where they’re hunted or trapped without limit all year long, they hide from humans and operate at night. In locations with less human pressure they forage during the day and encounter their familiars — ravens and sometimes crows.
Coyotes and Corvids often meet when it’s time to eat, especially at carcasses in winter. The carcass below attracted ravens and a black-billed magpie along with the coyote.
How do Corvids describe a coyote? Perhaps like this, as described by Doug Anderson.
Hunch in the trees to gossip about God and his inexorable experimenting, about deer guts and fish so stupid you could sell them air and how out in the deserts there’s a dog called coyote with their mind but no wings. …
Every autumn humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrate past California on their way to spend the winter off the coast of Mexico. They will linger, however, if they find lots of anchovies. Humpback whales love anchovies.
There were still lots of anchovies when the whales showed up this fall. Robin Agarwal took a whale watch out of Monterey Bay in early October and captured these scenes of lunge-feeding humpback whales.
The anchovies crowded close as the predators approached. The whales forced them to the surface where the tiny fish leapt out of the water to escape.
The whales opened their mouths and anchovies fell in.
However, the native red squirrels are stabilizing in Scotland, in part because European pine martens (Martes martes) are increasing and they selectively prey on gray squirrels.
The European pine marten is pretty cute, too.
p.s. Gray (grey) squirrels are invasive in the UK but a 2016 study found that their populations are genetically distinct from their neighbors and they didn’t invade new places on their own. Humans spread them!
One of the worst offenders at spreading grey squirrels was the 11th Duke of Bedford, Herbrand Russell. Russell was involved in many successful animal conservation projects, but released and gifted many grey squirrels around the UK from his home at Woburn Park.
Russell also released populations [of grey squirrels] in Regent’s Park, likely creating the London epidemic of greys.
After five days of extremely cold weather the temperature is rising into the 40s today and will stay above freezing in the week ahead. Hard fruits that were softened by the freeze are now poised to ferment in warmer weather. Soon we may see drunken birds.
Birds leave crabapples and Callery pears on the trees in November because they’re too hard to eat. Freezing breaks down the starches into sugars and when the fruit thaws it is soft and yummy. However yeast gets into the fruit and ferments it. Birds gobble up the soft tasty fruit. If they eat too much they get drunk.
When abundant rowan berries fermented in Gilbert, Minnesota in October 2018, waxwings gorged on them and became quite drunk.
This black-billed magpie didn’t care that he was eating fermented apples until he could barely walk. He staggers among the apples and is only slightly more agile by the end of the video.
Pumpkins are a fruit and, yes, they can ferment. When they do, squirrels get drunk.
In 2015 a study reported that fermented fruit is becoming more common because of climate change. There’s more news in this vintage article.
(photos by Kate St. John and from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)
Another favorite dolphin game is to ride the pressure wave at the front of a fast moving boat. Called “bow riding,” the bow wave pushes dolphins fast forward without any flapping on their part.
Dolphins like this game so much that they rushed toward the whale watch boat. Robin Agarwal says of this photo, “Pacific White-sided Dolphins and Northern Right Whale Dolphins stampeding towards the boat to bow ride – my favorite sight in the world.”
Here they are bow riding with an “unusual swirl color morph” among them.
In 1976 Jerry Kemperman and Burton Barnes discovered that 106 acres of quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides) in the Fishlake National Forest of Utah were actually all the same male plant, one root with thousands of suckers that grew into trees. It came to be known as Pando — “I spread.”
Pando weighs 6,600 tons making it the heaviest known organism on Earth and it is very old, though no one is sure whether it’s 10,000 or 80,000 or even a million years old.
However, almost as soon as Pando was discovered researchers found that sections of it were not rejuvenating because new sprouts were being overbrowsed by deer. In that part of the U.S. the species is mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus).
So they fenced it — twice — one fence in 2013, another in 2014.
Then in 2018 Paul Rogers and Darren McAvoy of Utah State University conducted a followup study sampling Pando’s health inside and outside the deer exclosure fences and concluded that the fencing was not working.
According to September 2022 Sci.News “The unfenced areas are experiencing the most rapid aspen decline, while the fenced areas are taking their own unique courses — in effect, breaking up this unique, historically uniform, forest. … Fencing alone is encouraging single-aged regeneration in a forest that has sustained itself over the centuries by varying growth.”
“One clear lesson emerges here: we cannot independently manage wildlife and forests.”
Aldo Leopold’s experience in his early career when he worked to eradicate wolves from the American West changed his perspective on trees and deer. At one point he shot an old female wolf and was there to see the green fire go out of her eyes as she died. He wrote …
I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.…
I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades.
Last week as I walked past a team of Allegheny Goatscape goats munching invasive plants in Schenley Park, I noticed a sign that described their sleep cycles. The goats, who are guarded by a donkey, sleep 5 hours in a 24-hour day. The donkey sleeps only 3 hours. Imagine being able to function normally on so little sleep!
Some animals sleep less than we do, some sleep more.
We humans, who average 8 hours per day, are well aware of our pets’ sleep cycles. Cats sleep 12 hours a day (so do mice!). When this man gets up his cat will curl up in the warm spot and go back to sleep.