Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wild Kingdom - A Musing in 3 Parts: II

Part II: On the Consuming of Bugs

A few evenings ago, around twilight, we noticed some strange looking birds flitting around our back yard. Upon closer inspection, we realized that they're not birds at all. They were beautiful, swooping, feeding bats.

I like bats. Not enough to keep them as pets (ewwwww), but I appreciate what the can do for me. Anything that can eat its weight in mosquitoes every night is A-OK in my book. These winged mammalian hunters of the night, using an internal echolocation system that could put some of the most sophisticated military target tracking radars to shame. At once simple and complex, they are magnificent denizens of the night sky.

I immediately began to ponder ways to encourage these nocturnal visitors. I plan on some bat boxes, but need to figure out what kinds of bats they are. I also want to try and attract more food for them, but that would mean deliberately encouraging mosquitoes to come into my yard. Not a thrilling prospect.

Anyone got any ideas?

PS: I'm fully aware that bats are natural vectors for any number of zoonotic pathogens. Nasty ones too. I don't want to pet them, just encourage them to eat as many mosquitoes as they can.

Wild Kingdom - A Musing in 3 Parts: 1

Lots of animal activity of late around here. Not really sure what that's all about.
Part I: Wherein the Cat Earns Her Keep.

Last Friday, I left for work as usual, with my lovely wife still abed and enjoying her last few moments of shut-eye before greeting the day.

At about 6:15, she heard the Cat making unusual mewing and chirping noises. This usually means that she's not feeling well (about to hork up a hairball), or she's got something cornered. The noise subsided after a few minutes, and my wife went back to sleep.

A few minutes after that, the Cat (as is her wont) jumped up onto the bed. Normally, she finds a nice spot on which to curl up for an early morning nap, but on this day she made straight for the Wife's head. She usually does this when she's hungry and either wants you to wake up and feed her, or at least get up and watch her eat. She's a strange cat, that way.

But not today. With the Cat's face a mere inches from my hers, my Lovely Bride slowly opened her tired eyes to find our Cat staring back at her. With a (mostly) uninjured mouse in it's mouth. Apparently this is not my wife's preferred way to wake up.
Of course, when I heard this story, I immediately asked if the Cat was sufficiently praised for her work, and was told that yes, praise was lavished upon the Cat, along with some pleadings that should a rodent be captured in the future please wait until a decent hour before announcing it and for heaven's sake don't bring it into the bed.

With a shoe box in hand, the Wife dutifully collected the (mostly) uninjured mouse and deposited him (or her) back into the wild from whence it came. Seeing as it's the second time the little fella has made it into the house and been captured, I'm sure we'll see it again.