Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, SILENT SPRING, ignited the environmental movement in the United States. In developing her theories, she garnered information from citizen scientists who, in their own backyards, had discovered squirrels and birds poisoned by pesticides. By showing concern for the smallest inhabitants of their communities, 1960’s citizen scientists changed the world. Here at the Edge of the Wood we applaud environmental activists, in all shapes and sizes.
Here at the edge of the wood we feel animals don’t really need organized sports, the forest is full of spontaneous games. However, a squirrel did once help a “cardinal” in a decisive game of baseball. In 2011 a squirrel scampered across the plate during Game 4 of the division playoff series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals, who were facing elimination at home, won the game and adopted the “rally squirrel” as an unofficial mascot and went on to win the World Series. They paid tribute to their animal friend on their World Series ring, one side includes a tiny squirrel in mid-flight, leaping over a home plate.
All over the globe elephants are known to mourn their dead with utmost reverence and emotion. Scientists are now finding out that Western Scrub Jays also perform a ceremony, screeching over the body of the deceased for as long as half an hour. Dr Teresa Iglesias, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Davis, states that this research does not confirm whether the jays are having an emotional reaction but it is not out of the question. “If it works for us, why not other animals?” she said. Thank you Dr Iglesias for the scientific common sense.
Here at the edge of the wood we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who took care of our animal friends during the big blizzard. This woman in Fort Tryon Park, New York City charmed us as did these Marine Unit Suffolk County police who rescued a baby deer from freezing waters as her deer family looked on. Let’s hear it for these firefighters in Natick, MA who saved an older horse who got stuck in the snow. Keep your eyes open people because one day an adorable animal may rescue you like Lilly the Pitt Bull who saved her unconscious owner from an oncoming train.
All of us at the edge of the wood want to wish you a happy holiday season. In the words of the great Jane Goodall, “I think the best evenings are when we have messages, things that make us think, but we can also laugh and enjoy each other’s company.” May you have many such evenings of thought and fun.
Here at the feeder we love to watch everyone interact. We find these encounters quite complex, and we wonder what is truly going on. It has been found that squirrels can communicate via ultrasound on a frequency higher than human hearing just like bats. So while the squirrels, chipmunk and grackle look as if they are having an awkward social moment, they might actually discussing the upcoming Warhol retrospective at the Met surrounded by newly flowering phlox.
Here at the edge of the wood we noticed that some squirrels will dine quite close and others will not tolerate each other. Is there a social structure at work? Does it depend on friendship or kinship? We noted some alpha behavior and some diplomatic maneuvers. Clearly these squirrels need to play a larger roll on the world stage. Here they are in front of the newly flowered kousa dogwood and cranberry viburnum.