Tag Archives: wild

Thursday June 8th; A Wild Kind of Love

Thursday June 8th

Partly cloudy, 70’s, full moon tomorrow, early evening

photo by natasha

 

A couple of weeks ago while they were out foraging,  Wil and our sweet friend Ben found a deer that had been killed by coyotes.

The kill was so recent that most likely Wil and Ben had scared the hunters away from their meal as they passed through, which meant that there were fresh coyote tracks scattered throughout the area, and the deer’s blood still ran liquid from its wounds.

By the time I was able to get out to check out the spot later that day, flies were already busily laying their eggs in the meat and hide, and the doe’s beautiful eyes had clouded over. Cool to the touch, eviscerated, and peppered with bite wounds, laying a hand on her flank I said a quiet thanks for the chance to see such a thing here in this fairly urban woodland, and hoped her death had been quick and as painless as possible.

Wil and I have long suspected that coywolves prowled this particular area. On the line between urban/suburban park/woodland, and the manicured greens of a popular golf course, there’s a wooded hillside closed to hikers that borders the river on one side. A stealthy wild  canine could happily reside in such a spot and hunt and forage in the surrounding areas including the edges of the city and about 500 acres of park with a healthy, thriving deer population. If I was a coywolf, its certainly the place that I would choose to call home. (Actually, I’d be happy to call such a place home as a human too! But I digress…)

We’ve looked for sign of them before and as my love of coyotes has grown over the years so have our tracking efforts. But our searching resulted in not much- a couple of questionable, dusty half-tracks, and a small sample of possible scat. And yet, all of our instincts were telling us this land was the perfect spot for them.

In recent years the Coywolf population has blossomed here in the northeast and all over eastern north america. Also called the Eastern Coyote, the name Coywolf refers to their genetic make-up, a mixture of  Eastern Wolf, Western Coyote, and Domestic Dog. As wolf populations dropped wolves began to mate with western coyotes and the coywolf hybrid was born.

Incredibly secretive, mostly nocturnal and happy dwelling in the edgy kind of habitats we humans are so fond of creating, the Coywolf is filling an incredibly important predatorial niche in habitats all over its range.

I was happy just suspecting they were living here. But to know for sure? Makes my heart skip a beat.

Because theirs is a story of adaptation, of resiliency. Of wolves and coyotes finding a way to raise families and stay alive under impossible odds and nearly constant persecution by our agricultural  society. It’s a story of shape shifting, of cultural adaptation and the survival of an ancient way of life in the face of a civilization at war with all things wild.

I would still love to see a Coywolf, and maybe I will someday. It’s an especially tantalizing thought now that I know they are actually right there, practically my neighbors.

But part of me just wants them to stay hidden. To live out their secret primal lives without human eyes, or our desires, landing upon them.

And that’s a special kind of love, a wild kind of love. The kind of love we don’t need to possess to enjoy, where just feeling the presence of another’s soul is enough, and there is great joy in knowing they are free.

This piece is dedicated to our dog Buck, who passed away a few days ago and totally broke our hearts in a way I was not expecting. He was our faithful companion for over 12 years, and was for sure woven into the very fabric of our lives. Hope you felt you had a good life buddy, and hope the hunting is good where you are now. Love you old boy, we all miss you very much.

 

Starlings, Monday May 15th

Monday, May 15th

bright sun, blue sky, 60’s, breezy,  waning gibbous moon 81% illuminated, late afternoon

“Starling” by Natasha

Here, living in the city, I am on a near constant search for signs of life. Other than human that is. And surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly) there is so much of it! I’m constantly amazed. The most lovely and delicate of ivy vines push their way up through the smallest cracks in the sidewalks, black locust flowers drip from the trees, Possums wriggle their way over our fences, and birds seek out the tiniest crevices to build their nests. One of my favorite wild neighbors is the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris).

I know starlings have a bad rap. Yes, they are cavity nesters, capable of stealing precious homes from more respected, native birds. Yes they can be aggressive, and have been know to destroy or evict the eggs of their cavity competitors. Yes, they are noisy. Yes, they are a bit rumpled looking. Yes they are messy, bold, and ever present.

And yet I cannot help but love them with all of my being.

They are so tenacious! So clever! So undeniably wild even in this most domesticated of settings. A creature after my own heart.

Natives of Europe, in the late 1800’s 60 birds were released in Central Park by the Acclimatization Society, a group dedicated to bringing every bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s writings to America. Odd I know, but the plan was a success in the case of the Starlings and today they number up to 2 million individuals in North America.

“Starling” by Natasha

For weeks now Rev and I have watched several pairs of our feathered friends building nests in all the little open spaces on our block- they especially seem to the like the tiny niches in the corner of the house roofs, where the shingles meet the siding of these old city houses.

One day we planted our small yellow window box with yellow violets and lavender. Not an hour later a starling appeared, tugging on the stalks of purple and yellow flowers and carrying them up to her spot just under our roof. It turns out they often harvest aromatic plants for their nests to deter parasites. What excellent housekeepers! I like to think of her little chicks cozy in there now, growing up with the scent of lavender in the air. And yes, they do have an excellent sense of smell, as do many birds, contrary to popular belief.

Incredible mimics- they are cousins of  the mynah bird, a world renown mimic-  Starlings have been heard singing like the wood thrush, american robin, red-tailed hawk and many other birds. They are also capable of copying more urban sounds, like police sirens, car alarms, ringing phones AND human speech. I like to listen to their conversations in the morning while I drink coffee by the open window. Their high pitched squeals and squeaks  remind me of something mechanical, and Rev and I picture little robots emitting radio waves tending tiny robot eggs up above.

On our walks around town we’ve been finding tiny pieces of recently hatched and discarded eggshell on the sidewalks under their nests and blowing around the streets. Rev collected a few for his nature box and the shards are so blue and delicate they feel like little chips of sky when I hold them in my hand. Whenever possible Starling families like to use the same nesting site year after year. This house is their home as much as it is mine.

In the fall, and winter, after the babies grow up, their behavior will change. Large groups of Starlings will flock together to glean seeds and insects out of the wintering farm fields, and they will roost together at night in massive groups. They will grow a new coat  without losing the old one, and the white tips of their new feathers will make patterns of polka dots on their bellies and breasts that look like little tattoos or maps of the stars.

At dusk, or at the first sign of a predator, you might see a flock of Starlings take to the sky. They are capable of flying very fast, in very tight formations, as though they were one organism instead of many individuals. They twist and undulate and dodge and dance, in very much the same way a school of fish swims in the sea.

They call this a murmuration, which feels like the most perfect of words for such a thing. It makes me think of the word murmur of course, of  quiet conversations, and whispered thoughts.  Of heartbeats with an echo, steady and unsteady at the very same time.

And the hum the Starling wings must make, as they write one of earth’s stories across the clear, blue, sky.

“Starling” by Natasha