Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Squirrel and The Woodchuck

The other morning after I had put out fresh water for all the critters along with some treats for the squirrels and the woodchucks, I was petting my next-door neighbor's cat, Tigger, when I saw the woodchuck coming around the corner of the shed.  To my surprise, the woodchuck would stop and look and then just kept on coming.  My arm was moving the entire time because I was still petting Tigger and I was also turning my head to see where the woodchuck was every once in a while.  Finally I just kept looking at the woodchuck to see how close he would get because I was standing just a couple feet from the food I had just put out.  Maybe my staring was what did it, but it was like a light bulb went off and it suddenly realized there was a person standing there.  All of a sudden he turned around and just kept moving its little legs as fast as it could to get the heck out of there.  It cracked me up because it reminded me of the cartoons you see of  legs moving a mile a minute with the sound effects, but the cartoon not moving.  I had a smile on my face all the way to work.

Well, this morning the woodchuck was back again getting a little braver and more used to seeing me and it did come to the food while I was standing by the porch.  I so wished I had a camera.  This time it stayed a couple minutes, grabbed a mini-carrot and then left.  I quick ran into the house to get my camera and went back outside to see if the woodchuck would return so I could get some photos.  Yep, it did!

Some of these photos are cropped so it looks like I'm standing closer than I actually am.  I was so happy to get some photos that weren't taken through a door or window that didn't have a screen or reflection of the glass in them.

I took a few pictures and then I went back inside.  I kept looking out the door to see where it was.  Then I noticed a squirrel was also on the prowl for some goodies.  I have been putting the squirrel treats on the porch because I noticed the other day that the woodchuck would come over and steal some squirrel goodies when I put all the food on the patio.  The woodchuck can be intimidating to the smaller squirrel.  I opened the screen door and put some nuts and sunflower seeds out on the porch.  Smart woodchuck that it is, noticed this and the next thing I knew the woodchuck was on the porch still getting the goodies meant for the squirrel!

Hey, that's mine!!!

The squirrel couldn't get up the nerve to grab a bite with the woodchuck still there, so it decided to go investigate the pile of chuckie goodies.  The woodchuck saw this and immediately got off the porch and ran over to its food.  The squirrel then came back to the porch, but wasn't brave enough with me standing there to grab a quick bite.  Back came the woodchuck to claim more spoils.  Finally it had had its fill I suppose and went back to the chuckie food.  By this time the squirrel had run up into the tree.  It waited for a few minutes and then finally came back to the porch and was rewarded for its patience.

Their antics kept me entertained most of the morning!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Morning Romance

Morning Romance
by LaurieAnn Kearns
In a still, bright dawn,
a dragonfly arriving,
on the buddleia alighting,
in the shining sun dazzling,
blue-green colours reflecting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Morning Visitor

This morning when I came into the living room and put up the blinds, I saw kitty Tabby on the porch.  Tabby is a feral neighborhood cat that has been around for years and I always feed him when I see he's outside.

I happened to glance over to the water dish I keep out for the critters and to my surprise, this is what I saw.

I quickly grabbed the camera and took a few more photos.  I had been wanting a picture of one of the  skunks because I think they are so beautiful, but since they are normally out at night I've never had a chance before.  The ones around here seem to have a lot more white on them than other skunk pictures I've seen, like this one from Wikipedia:

The American Hog-nosed Skunk and the Hooded Skunk have more white, but are not found in the eastern U.S.

Anyway, I was thrilled to get some photos this morning - here are a few more of my visitor.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Unidentifiable Females

Don't worry, I'm talking about birds, not humans!  Twice in the last couple of weeks I've seen a bird by the feeder that I wasn't able to identify - until I saw the male bird and then was able to put two and two together.  Two great examples of sexual dimorphism (the systematic difference in form between individuals of different sex in the same species).  The first instance was when I saw a bird that looked like a mutant song sparrow, but a lot darker in color and no central spot on the breast.

At first I thought it was another type of sparrow, but couldn't find a picture of one that looked similar.  I saw it several times at the feeder before I saw the male bird - a red-winged blackbird!  Then I was able to make a positive ID.  Here are better pictures of both birds courtesy of Wikipedia.

Male red-winged blackbird  by Walter Siegmund

Female red-winged blackbird

In the second case, I kept seeing a rather nondescript grayish, brownish bird with no distinguishable markings.  I saw it several times as well before I saw the male - a brown-headed cowbird.

Female brown-headed cowbird By Lee Karney

Male brown-headed cowbird

Cardinals are also examples of sexual dimorphism, although to me it's not quite as extreme and the above illustrations.

Female Northern Cardinal by Geoff Clarke

Male Northern Cardinal by Whaledad

Identifying birds is hard enough without having to remember that the male and female look totally different!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Greening of the Trees

"The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said; 
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old?  No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In full grown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh."
-Philip Larkin

The trees are greening up here in their chartreuse-colored leaves, looking very fresh as compared to the dark green of summer, although some trees are slower than others to believe winter is over.  The dogwoods are in bloom, as are the lilacs.  A beautiful day of sunshine and blue skies.

Have a beautiful day!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Primate Pronouncements II

Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth are well known for their vocalization and behavior studies of vervet monkeys, as well as their more recent studies of baboons.  Vervet monkeys have different alarm calls depending on the predator.  Robert Seyfarth explains.

Here are a couple examples of their calls.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Primate Pronouncements

You've probably seen primates in zoos or on television or even online, but do you know what they sound like?  And if you've heard them, do you know why they are vocalizing?  Here are some examples of primate vocalizations along with what it is they are 'saying'.

Orangutans - "Male orangutans exhibit a curious and little-understood case of “bimaturism,” also referred to as “arrested development.” This means that there are two “types” of mature male orangutans: flanged and unflanged males. A flanged male has big cheek pads on the sides of his face and a large pendulous throat sack under his chin. An unflanged male has neither of these traits, and his body is usually smaller. Unflanged males are sexually mature and fully able to father offspring; females, however, seem to prefer to mate with the flanged males. Because of this, unflanged males often resort to “forceful copulation” in order to attain matings. Meanwhile, flanged males emit loud booming “long calls’, presumably to attract receptive females as well as to let other males know their whereabouts. It is not fully understood exactly when and why a mature male undergoes the transformation from unflanged to flanged, or even if every male undergoes this transformation (although it seems likely that he does eventually). It has been hypothesized that the existence of a dominant flanged male within the sensory range of an unflanged male inhibits the unflanged male’s development (by stimulating release of special hormones?). Thus, not until the dominant flanged male dies, moves away, or is defeated, or the subadult male himself moves away or stays low, can the unflanged male develop his cheek pads and large size."  from the Orangutan Foundation International.

Orangutan long call


"Dr. Jane Goodall’s long-term study of chimpanzee behavior at Gombe National Park helped scientists understand more about the diversity and meaning of chimpanzee calls. There are two types of chimpanzee calls:

Intraparty Calls – These calls take place between chimpanzees that are in the same group.

Distance Calls – These calls are made between groups that are separated, sometimes by a great distance.

One of the chimpanzee calls is the “pant-hoot.” Each individual chimpanzee has his or her own distinct pant-hoot. This helps other chimpanzees tell who is making the call even if they can’t see who is calling."  from the Jane Goodall Institute.

"High-ranking adult males pant-hoot most frequently. Females sometimes produce pant-hoots on their own and often join in a chorus of pant-hoots when others are calling. Chimpanzees pant-hoot in a variety of circumstances, such as arriving at fruit trees, responding to distant pant-hoots, when joining other community members, and when traveling."  Michael L. Wilson

Chimp pant-hoot


Gorillas are known for beating their chest, although to be honest it really doesn't sound too intimidating to humans.  It sounds more like they are trying to imitate the sounds of horse hooves..  "This behavior is done by all gorillas and the either one or two open-fist hands are clapped against the chest (Estes, 1991). Adult males produce a sound when doing this because of air sacs they have which are located on both sides of their throat (Estes, 1991). For the adult male this is a threat display (Estes, 1991)."  from

A gorilla roar is much more impressive.

Gorillas have many types of vocalizations.  For more information, click here.


Gibbons probably have the most impressive voices.  When visiting the Denver Zoo, the gibbons were always the ones you could hear in most places in the entire zoo.  "All species of gibbons are known to produce elaborate, species-specific and sex-specific patterns of vocalisation often referred to as "songs" (Haimoff, 1984; Marshall & Marshall, 1976). Songs are loud and complex and are mainly uttered at specifically established times of day. In most species, mated pairs may characteristically combine their songs in a relatively rigid pattern to produce coordinated duet songs. Several functions have been attributed to gibbon songs, most of which emphasise a role in territorial advertisement, mate attraction and maintenance of pair and family bonds (Geissmann, 1999; Geissmann & Orgeldinger, 2000; Haimoff, 1984; Leighton, 1987)."  from the Gibbon Research Lab.

Gibbons singing??

Impressive or annoying??!!