Thursday, November 5, 2009

Crawl, Fly, or Climb

November 5, 2009

The gorgeous weather has somehow put a strain on the wildlife in the neighborhood.  I don't know.  Maybe the birds, caterpillars, and squirrels have been mesmerized by bright sunshine, clear skies, and exactly seasonal temperatures.  I've heard the geese go by, and I think they were headed in the right direction, but everyone else has been a little out of kilter lately.

It started with a confused caterpillar looking for a place to rest itself and spin its cocoon.  This, of course, happens every fall (I'll ask the neighborhood Master Naturalist for the species, if you are interested).  Unfortunately, the "usual" place this type caterpillar goes for the big transition is not available this year.  So it wandered around, in the middle of the road, no less, looking for a place to (literally) hang out.  The worried Master Naturalist became concerned when it kept crossing and re-crossing the road, so she carefully picked it up and took it to a Likely Place.  The caterpillar rejected that offer, so she carried it someplace else.  It took about an hour, but eventually the Caterpillar Rescue Operation was successfully concluded, with the caterpillar happily hanging upside down, spinning silk and the happy Master Naturalist retired to her lookout post on the porch, ever vigilant.

A day or two later, a flicker presented itself in need of aid.  M.N. found it, passed out, lying on the ground feet straight up in the air like a wiped out skier who missed the trail marker.  Apparently, it rammed itself into a window and knocked itself silly.  With great patience and tender hands, the Master Naturalist warmed it and coaxed it back to consciousness.

Pretty soon, even I had to get in on the act.  As I walked along the path between our houses, I came across a brown sparrow sitting there, looking at me.  Did I have the healing hands, too?  Amazingly, it let me pick it up and rode along in my cupped hands, just blinking at me.  I carried it towards the Master Naturalists command post, though at the last moment it took flight, healed from whatever trauma it had experienced.

These saves pale in comparison to the young squirrel rescue that happened next.  I was packing or unpacking my car (I have had so many lanyard workshops lately I can't remember which), when I saw a scrabbling squirrel trying to climb up the door to Erin and Davis's shed.  That confused me, but not as much as hearing it scream.  A horrible noise, a squirrel scream.  We (the Master Naturalist and I) observed it--maybe some blood, maybe an injured leg, who knows what else--and tried to make a plan (for those keeping score, the squirrel was not one of Willie's exercise clients).  We found a thick towel and a styrofoam beer cooler, and with a little luck, managed to secure the squirrel into the towel nest inside the cooler.  Amazingly, there is a squirrel specialist at the small animal clinic at Texas A&M.  They promised they would release the youngster back in our neighborhood if they could heal it, and that they wouldn't charge is either way (survival or not).

I felt a little guilty boarding a flight out of Easterwood Airport this morning, headed to Houston and on to Louisville, Kentucky.  Who will be the Master Naturalist's wing woman (or paw woman) until I get back on Sunday?


  1. Funny thing! I just found a redtail hawk youngster sitting on the side of the busy road while cars drove by it without paying any notice to the apparently injured bird.. well that just broke my heart. I pulled over, saw that he must have been hit and was stunned, picked him up and gently lifted wings, legs, to see what was connected and what may not be... it was all intact, so I walked him over to a large tree branch back in the woods, and let him sit there. He then started moving around... and it was clear he was gonna come out of his stupor and be just fine. Must be the weird weather.

  2. Vickie,
    There is a picture with your name on it, but, my dear, it is no leftover!

    Have fun in Louisville!


  3. I live in Rochester NY, and a few years back I noticed way, WAY more deer/rabbit/raccoon casualties than usual on the highway. This lasted for about 3 weeks one fall. Apparently, sometimes the fall weather conditions - at least up here - are such that certain berries and fruits ferment. Animals that rely on these fruits get utterly smashed off of them - and then, unfortunately get... well, utterly smashed. Perhaps some of your critters were tipsy?

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  5. Hope you had a great weekend away. Miss you guys a lot and can't wait until Thanksgiving so we can see each other again.

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