Seeing Magpies, Beaver and a Singing Eagle in Aspen


I’m in Aspen while my husband moderates a panel on the Rooftop Comedy Festival so I went to check out the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. I thought I had arrived just in time to go on one of  their summer beaver lodge walks. But I’m just a bit early. They do them all summer, two nights a week. The center is closed after 5 otherwise, so you can’t do the walk on your own. I’m curious whether a beaver lodge in front of the Aspen Art Museum is still active.

The lodge itself is on the bank and not very obvious, one of the workers, Olivia told us. They’ve put fencing and chicken wire around trees all over their property to protect them from the beavers. And they still have to undo complicated and well-constructed beaver-made waterworks, she says. But it’s amazing to have such an important species right there–the center is walkable from downtown Aspen.

The center itself has two non-releaseable birds,  a great-horned owl and a golden eagle, who sang for us.

Outside the center I was lucky enough to see a great horned owl, mobbed by sparrows, chase after them.  I saw a bat and a couple ground squirrels. Swifts are all around town.  Everything is bear-proof here. People talk about bears like they are a thing of the past–at least in town. Elk are seen out of town on route 82, but that’s considered more of a driving hazard than an animal

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5 Squirrels Off to New Homes with 2 Firemen

squirrel says goodbye

The Horvaths take Mickey

All five of my squrrels left home Wednesday night for their future permanent homes. Oddly, they all went home with firemen, but through different circumstances. No squirrel cooperated in any way with the move.

Mickey, the curiously tame black squirrel from Queens who suffered from malocclusion, is going to live permanently with Bobby and Cathy Horvath. Bobby’s a fireman and Cathy’s a cop and together they are a de facto wildlife squad for New York City and it suburbs. The Horvaths are the city’s big hawk experts and they also handle just generally the difficult and weird cases that no city agency expected to encounter, like wandering coywolves or pet lynx. They showed up with an SUV full of raptors after giving a demonstration to NYC Audubon in Central Park.

Mickey loves avocado. Everyone loves Mickey.

A friend of Bobby’s, Peter Richter, was the one who brought Mickey in. Peter is a hawk photographer who keeps an eye on nests for Bobby, so he knows when juveniles are likely to take their first wobbly flight onto urban greenspace, only to meet a panicked public, who calls the cops. The other fireman, Ralph Longo, rescued three baby squirrels from a car fire he put out in Queens. He saw them squirming in a nest near the fire. Two were burned, one badly enough to lose three back claws. This third one, Benji, I told Ralph, was especially sweet and gentle, probably because I’d

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Animals Catch World Cup Fever

black squirrel soccer ball

Mickey is all feet with the football

Around the world animal lovers are posing cute critters with soccer balls. It’s as if instead of Brazil versus England, it’ll be Team Fish versus Team Elephant.   A Japanese aquarium figured out how to give a soccer ball to fish, with “Blue tangs, symbolising Japan’s national soccer team who are popularly known as “Blue Samurai.”

I’m not above it. Here’s the squirrel football team.

Alvin puts on his game face

The Gray Team has the ball

Blue tangs symbolize Japan's team, who are called "Blue Samurai"

South Korean OAfrican penguins play football at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

African Soccer Star !! by Picture Taker 2

Corgi in Training by this is emily

AnimalTourism: Where to Go to See Animals

UK Repeating Survey that Last Year Found Widespread Charming Mammals

Hedgehog Ears!

Hedgehog Ears by by codepo8

Later this week up to 100,000 Brits will be going to their yards and counting badgers, hedgehogs, foxes, toads and moles. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds got 62,000 people to count last year when they started out.

The survey “is by far the biggest survey on garden mammals ever!” the site boasts. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it in the U.S. It’s a fantastic resource for wildlife watchers because you can see which counties have the most of which animals. Sure, it’s not totally scientific. People self-select to do it. And if I had a yard full of hedgehogs, I’d be filling out surveys and telling everyone I know about it.

The 2009 results showed a delightful amount of wildlife. In Wales, 9% of people who took the survey see badgers at least once a month and a quarter of the English live with have little hedgehogs on their property. What kind of magical place is this? Did anyone report any talking bunnies?

The survey just takes an hour, so they don’t demand that–unlike similar bird surveys–the animal doesn’t have to show up just at that moment. They let people report sign of an animal ask generally how often they’re seen. Otherwise you might get a whole lot of nothing from the survey.

As you might guess from its name the RSPB is more interested in birds than mammals. They also ask about cats, which they estimated recently that

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White Squirrels to Bring in 25,000 to Cool N.C. Town

You’ll see at least one white squirrel: non-releasable Elliott  

Olney, IL, watch your back! Brevard, NC–a longtime rival  White Squirrel Capital of the World–may be snatching the title for good. About 20,000 – 25,000 people are expected this weekend at Brevard’s 7th annual White Squirrel Festival to go on a white squirrel safari, compete with white squirrel photography, feeder-making and the “squirrel box derby.” (Well, okay, some actually come for the music.)

Normally there’s just one guy in a  squirrel suit called Woody the White Squirrel, but this year’s extravaganza will feature 250 people in white squirrel costumes dancing to BrotherBrother for five minutes Saturday afternoon to set a world record. (Coincidentally, robots in Austin will be dancing for their own record nearly simultaneously.)

“We’re really having fun with the theme,” says the guy who dreamed the whole thing up, Phil Davis. “We’re willing to be a little weird.” Brevard is joining the ranks of towns that have parties to celebrate something no one can imitate: local wildlife. So along with 32 Bald Eagle Watches, Moose Festivals and events to watch hummingbirds and bats, it’s only natural that a town with 1,000 white squirrels would flaunt it.

Many small towns–especially Olney–brag about their white squirrels. Cryptomundo lists 10 white and black squirrel cities and some try to tour them all. White squirrels, which are far more rare and exotic–breed competition that is suitably fierce and fun.

“There’s a bunch of wannabe cities,” Davis dismisses the competition. “They paint their squirrels is the rumor. We’re not in support of

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Wild Squirrel Invades Squirrel Rehab Room

The last time cheeky wild Mommy Squirrel came inside my apartment and somehow got Mickey, the squirrel recovering from a malocclusion, to bust out of her cage, there was some question as to why I didn’t get pictures. At the time, it seemed like an emergency. 

Today I left the office for two minutes and came back to find Mommy Squirrel in my chair. So I grabbed the camera to see what Mickey would do. She came out and deliberately ate in front of Mommy Squirrel, but then seemingly ignored her. My dog Jolly would do give dogs who barked at him a kind of I can’t see you kind of nonchalance.

I hope it’s not any kind of Mickey’s disability that she actually can’t see the invading squirrel. I suspect Mickey is like my mom: she only pretends to be oblivious, but is on top of everything going on.

Where to go to See Interesting SquirrelsWhere to See Wildlife in New York

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Will NYC Get an Official Wildlife Care Center?

The Wild Bird Fund, which is New York City’s defacto wildlife rehabilitation center, collected signatures this weekend to become the city’s official place to go with injured, sick or orphaned wild birds and animals. They explained to people at a wildlife fest that New York is the only big U.S. city without a real wildlife care center.
wild bird fund is working to get a nyc wildlife rehab center

So a bunch of volunteer wildlife rehabbers have picked up the slack. Rita McMahon and Karen Heidgerd run the Wild Bird Fund though  Animal General, a vet practice that donated care for 1,146 birds and 13 mammals last year. Continue reading Will NYC Get an Official Wildlife Care Center?

wild bird fund is working to get a nyc wildlife rehab center

Recovering Squirrel Fends Off Invader

Mommy Squirrel BegsMickey, the sweet black squirrel with a malocclusion, had an intruder this weekend. A wild squirrel we call Mommy Squirrel bust into the apartment and got Mickey so agitated that for the first time in three months she bothered to escape from her cage and climb a brick wall. Continue reading Recovering Squirrel Fends Off Invader

Mommy Squirrel Begs

Looks Like We’ll Be Blessed With a Few More Baby Squirrels

brooklyn babies

Got three more baby squirrels yesterday. More victims of a squirrel mother’s inappropriate urban housing choices. A very sweet family in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, discovered them in squatting in their air conditioner vent. The mother squirrel bit the man, grabbed one of her four babies and ran off. Renee, the human mother of the house sat up all night with worry, leaving the squirrels wrapped for warmth but available for the mother to take. Squirrel mom returned, but didn’t take the babies.

I’m full up with squirrels, so my fellow rehabber friend Vicki is coming to the rescue and taking them tonight. They’re all boys, all healthy, still with their eyes closed. One is a screamer.

The adolescent squirrels were highly interested in the new arrivals. Or at least the formula-filled syringe I was feeding them with.

Flying Squirrel! Grover jumps around the cage while Baby Ruth plays with a paper towel.

Mickey, meanwhile, showed absolutely no interest. She did harumph around the cage–her signal that she has noticed that I have come into the room yet not delivered her food yet. I had been thinking Mickey was nearing ready to get released back to the Queens community garden where she lived before, with the possibility of recatching her if we needed to trim her teeth. She’s definitely got two top teeth back, but they’re crooked. But the Horvaths–way more experienced and licensed rehabbers than I–think she won’t make it and offered her a permanent home with the other

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How Many Baby Squirrels in This Adorable Pile?

The baby squirrels have learned to nap in a hammock. Can you guess how many of the babies are huddled together? (answer at bottom)

At first Baby Ruth was shy and would have been sulking in the corner. Here she’s at the bottom of the pile. I do hear some grumbling from the pile. It’s not always Ruth crying; it’s usually just that Alvin is roughhousing with his sisters. They have all gotten the hang of the hammock, which I just put up today.

 Alvin eats breakfast in bed.

Baby Ruth and Benji thinking: why is there not a nipple attached to that camera?

Baby Ruth experiments with almonds.

 Meanwhile, in the fortress of solitude on the other side of the room, Mickey is making some serious progress. For the last couple days she’s eaten nuts. That means she’s feeling more comfortable with her teeth. She still can’t crack nuts–let’s not get carried away. But once I open them for her, she eats them. I hope this means she’ll be able to go back home soon, though I will miss her.

Where to Find Wild Animals in NYC Read how the squirrels got here

Read where Mickey came from

Answer: All four.

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