March 30, 2011 – Mammal day

I took the vertebrate field biology class out to Lowell’s.  He’s been seeing the screech owl in the wood duck box again.  We were hoping to see it.  If it wasn’t there, we were going to take down the box so that Lowell could install a camera in it.  We took the pontoon boat over to the proper tree.  Sadly, the screech owl was not in evidence.  I took the borescope and tried to peer into the box, but I didn’t get a very good image.  We knocked on the box and nothing came out.  So we pried the box off of the tree.  It was attached to a long board, so we turned it up side down for convenient storage on the boat.  That’s when I saw a hairy leg through the entrance hole.  We waited for the unknown animal to run out, but it wouldn’t.  We took down another nest box and motored back to the dock.  Lowell had gone to get an electric screw driver and screwed the top off of the box.  

From Spring 2011

Chris lends a hand.

Then we saw it was a raccoon, about half adult size. 

From Spring 2011

Little masked devil.

I thought it might have distemper because it had never made any attempt to run away.  I grabbed the crowbar that we had used to pry off the box, but when they layed it down, the ‘coon ran away like a healthy raccoon would.

We all got a kick out of that.  Earlier, Tara had been putting her face up to the opening and talking to the unknown occupant.  Good thing he didn’t come out then!

Later that same day, one of the music students, Scott, came by my office.  He often stops to talk about hunting and fishing.  He had an old cup; inside was something he had scooped out of the pond.  I was thinking tadpole.  I was definitely not thinking “bat”, which is what it was.  We took it out to the courtyard and put it in a tree.  It was wet and shivering, and we thought the sun would do it some good.

From Spring 2011

He’s kind of cute.  I’m pretty sure it’s another big brown bat, the species I always seem to find around here.

From Spring 2011

I like the way it uses it’s thumbs to climb the tree.

I thought it might have a good chance to make it.  It dried out and stopped shivering.  But it was still on the same tree the next day and the day after.  It was either sick or too far gone to fly away.

That afternoon when I got home, I took a run with the dogs.  We got around by the baseball diamond and I saw a woodchuck in the grass next to the road.  Big Guy saw it too.  I would have let him go after it, but it quickly got into a brush pile after it spied us.  Down by the dairy I saw a muskrat on the milkman’s lawn.  I reached for my cell phone to take a picture, but it ran into a culvert.  None of the dogs saw it.  That’s just as well.  I haven’t fallen down while running with them yet, but I’m sure the day will come.

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