January 26, 2020, at the River Trail Nature Center
A property owner in Tennessee found what he thought was a litter of stray puppies in a drainpipe and raised them, then took them to a shelter. Later, a veterinarian said, “Hmmm. These are coyotes.” Apparently coyote pups look like dog pups.
This one ended up at River Trail Nature Center, part of the Cook County Forest Preserves. He’s too imprinted and tame to survive on his own. Our guide reminded us that typical coyotes avoid humans. The incidents of aggressive coyotes usually can be traced to injury or to the coyote being fed and losing its natural fear of people. Don’t feed the wildlife (except birds, of course).
Our guide also told us Cook County’s many coyotes are the most studied in the country. Many sport radio collars. When the collar stops moving, the researchers look for what they assume is a dead coyote. Often they find a chewed-up radio collar. Even with their long snouts, they can’t reach the collar, so they buddy up and chew each other’s collars off.
I can date only a couple of my brother Virgil’s school photos, but tried to arrange them by apparent (to me) age. I wasn’t born until Virgil was almost eight years old, and I don’t remember much before kindergarten (except, I think, climbing out of and dangling from my crib, giving my mother heart palpitations when she found me). My first day of kindergarten was his first day of eighth grade.
Remember the little bird who used to tell you things before anyone else did? One must have told J. that January 5, 2020, was National Bird Day, with a 10 a.m. activity at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center.
Together with several families, we helped to fill the many feeders, logs, and hollow stumps behind the Nature Center with safflower, sunflower, and thistle seeds; peanuts; and other goodies. I was sure the presence of many people clomping around would deter the birds until we went back in, but several hung around in the trees overlooking the feeder area, and the bolder chickadees came in to see what was going on (or to make sure we were doing our jobs).
After breakfast at Third Coast Spice Cafe, a shopping interlude at Molly Bea’s, and a stop at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, we returned to take photos and for part 2 of National Bird Day — bird bingo. It didn’t take long to spot a cardinal, a titmouse, and a nuthatch eating upside down. The elusive square was held by the Cooper’s hawk. The staff told us they see one perhaps once a week. That no doubt puts a damper on the feeder activity.
After taking more photos, we settled into the very good little library at the nature center, which has books for kids and books on animals, nature, local history, and art. It’s a gem of a resource which I don’t often see in use.
After I spent more than I should (as usual) at the Schoolhouse Shop, we ended National Bird Day with half-price veggie pizza at Villa Nova in Chesterton. Mmmm. No chicken.