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August 07, 2005

Wild(life) Party

There were twelve turkeys outside our windows this morning, two hens guarding ten no-longer-chicks. They scratched, and then moved on down the hill toward the creekbed and the blackberry... patch, we will call it.

It is remarkable how much more medium-sized wildlife we see on a daily basis here in edge suburbia as opposed to, say, up high in Kings Canyon. The reason appears clear: We irrigate. We irrigate up the wazoo. If the deer had species memories of what this area looked like 250 years ago, they would be amazed at the change. We have changed the land to provide much more food sources for opossums, turkeys, raccoons, skunks, deer, and like critters. Roadkill is an incredible bonanza for cathartes aura(1).

By contrast, we do not like their predators: the larger members of felis, canis, and ursus. There has not been a member of ursus americanus(2) up here by Little Grizzly Creek in a century, and the same goes (fortunately) for ursus arctos horribilis(3). Felis concolor(4) is occasionally seen by the mail carrier resting in the blackberry patch (though, somehow, nobody ever sees felis rufus(5)). I don't think this was ever part of the range of canis lupus(6) (although we hear canis latrans(7) once every couple of weeks.


(1) Turkey vulture.
(2) Black bear.
(3) Grizzly bear.
(4) Mountain lion.
(5) Bobcat.
(6) Grey wolf.
(7) Coyote.

Posted by DeLong at August 7, 2005 05:51 PM