Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Forward - wild neighbors

Warming weather means animals are emerging from hibernation or simply, being more active and that also means, mating, nesting, bearing young, and feeding and training those young.  If you, too, are emerging from some winter indoor time, you may spot all sorts of growth when you venture out the front door.

If you are new to the suburbs or rural areas of Maryland, you'll find that there are bugs, oppossum, squirrels, groundhogs, Bradford pear trees, owls, deer, feral cats, many different birds, chipmunk, fox, raccoon, dandelion, and other various living creatures or plants out here to learn to coexist with.  Oh, we do have pigeons too, and Mourning Doves, their relatives.  We have probably a slightly bigger variety of wild life here than you might find in Manhattan or downtown Washington DC.  We've heard there are coyote here, too.

But this is not a blog about "Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!"  You generally don't have to be fearful living in Maryland cities and towns or in its agricultural or suburban areas.  Just because you see a strange animal out the window, does not mean it is cause for a police alert.  You can mostly simply ignore it, and go about your business.  Even if you are an apartment dweller and you find an oppossum in a stairwell, if you quietly edge past the frightened animal, it will live and let live.  It is really true, the oppossum is usually more frightened than you could be. 

Some of us are prone to sort of identify with animals outdoors -- those fuzzy ducklings!  The cute and playful kittens!  That pretty little bunny. 

If you are in this class, and if those babies you spot are not making a truly dreadful spectacle, keep cool, and watch out for an adult or adults of the species nearby.  Very often, adults will leave their offspring in a safe place to find food for them, and also, adults teach their young how to manage on their own by a kind of planned absence.  Generations of wild animals have survived this kind of raising, so today is probably NOT the time to imagine impending doom about it. 

Early morning and early evening are important times when wild animals look for food and can be seen "out of place."  You can help them survive by keeping an eye out for them, but also, by seeing that your dogs or cats aren't allowed outside without your supervision when wild animals are nearby.  Mowing the lawn?  Pay attention to the behavior of birds around the yard, and watch out for thatches of grass that might hide baby rabbits. 

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