In last week's column I discussed some of the animals that are enjoyed by children, whether they are in their backyard, the wild, the zoo, or reading their favorite book. This week I would like to conclude this topic with a follow-up discussion of the many animals that we experience around our homes or in our community. This group will consist of the chipmunk, squirrel, deer, hawk, coyote and the bear.
Starting with the chipmunk, this little member of the mammal family, of which there are 16 members found throughout our country, always appeals to many of us as we observe its boisterous behavior around our homes, especially under bird feeders where it enjoys a meal of birdseed that has been knocked off the feeders by the birds. During my science teaching days, I would always try to keep a good variety of plant and animal species in the laboratory for the students to study and care for. It was my belief that one of the best learning experiences for students was the actual observation of the behaviors of these animals in the physical and biological world. Quite often during the class period, this method created a little excitement as the behaviors of the animals brought about student joy and excitement in addition to animal behavior learning.
The Gray Squirrel is primarily a tree dweller rarely venturing far from the tree. Nests in an available hole in a tree or builds a nest of leaves and branches that can be usually seen from the ground. They will sometimes forage for food for a reasonable distance from tree. Gray Squirrels have been known to live up to 15 years in captivity.
In this article I am included a picture of a deer and a rabbit exchanging greetings, which in the animal world is quite often done by the sense of smell. Moving on to the White-tailed Deer, this animal is found all over the United States with the exception of a few of the western states. Well known to most of us here in Chautauqua County, it is always a joy to observe. In one of my earlier columns I included a photo of a fawn that I nearly stepped on in woods near my home. Protected by a lack of detectable odor, its behavior is to remain motionless until the adult arrives or the danger subsides. In the case I experienced, the female was a few feet from me announcing her presence with a few snorts and stamping of her hooves to let me know she was not happy that I was there. I backed away as slowly as I could.
The coyote is primarily a nocturnal animal, but can be seen most any time of the day. It will eat almost anything animal or vegetable. Coyotes primarily like to feed on small rodents and rabbits. They will sometimes hunt in pairs and usually like to build dens in the ground. Coyotes do not stray too far from water. They have been known to mate with domestic dogs. While known to kill rodents and rabbits doing a real service to the rancher, coyotes will sometimes attack livestock.
The next group of animals to discuss is the hawk. Of the 17 species of hawks or raptors we have within our county, the one that is probably most observed by us is the Red-tailed Hawk that we can observe along the New York Thruway and other major routes as it searches for prey along those well traveled roads. Two other common members of this group are the Sharp-shinned and Coopers Hawk. Both of these species search for meals of birds and consequently can be found near our bird feeders hoping for a quick dinner.
The last member of this group to be discussed is the Black Bear. While most of us do not experience many encounters with this animal, those that may live near more heavily wooded areas of our county do occasionally experience some encounters. As I was writing this article a news report appeared on television announcing an encounter a car had with a Black Bear in our Western New York area.
Finally, I am always willing to accept article ideas and photographs from readers. You may send them to me by U.S. mail to Dick Miga 38 Elm St. Fredonia N.Y. 14063. Or by e-mal to firstname.lastname@example.org.