8:04 p.m. - 2007-03-01
How are you? Is it currently raining where you are, or snowing like a mother as it is here?! Yikes.
Have you seen critters lately? Again, my sightings have been limited to the bunny, squirrel and birdy types. Every day as I merge onto the highway there are always some pigeons on a certain light post, which I find interesting.
Around the building where I teach I've seen many pigeon carcasses! Apparently there's a falcon who haunts the territory. I haven't seen him yet! I remember an article about peregrine falcons thriving in downtown Minneapolis, but I couldn't find it. Here is a link to a similar situation in Chicago.
Pigeons are in the news, as well!
Today I talked to my lovely sis L and asked if she could have her fiance J drive up here to plow our stupid driveway. (It was raining in the Motherland.)
But L is on the bad-list because I specifically wrote my previous dung beetle entry just for her! And she hasn't read it yet. I'm giving her another chance though, as tonight she gave me yet another topic for a Critter Corner entry.
L wakes up very early for work and was surprised to hear a horrible wailing noise the other morning. She thinks it was some bobcats mating. So, today we'll learn about this most commonly seen North American cat.
Also, long ago my lovely little cousin JW requested a write up on the subject of arctic foxes. Both of these animals would fit in nicely with the blizzard conditions here in Minneapolis!
So cute! Lynx rufus (also known as Felis rufus) is a very adaptable small wildcat, with a range from southern Canada all the way through Mexico. Bobcats live in semi-desert areas, urban regions, wetlands and forests. They are smaller than the lynx, and have the distinctive white fur under their short tails.
Apparently bobcats are related to an Asian lynx that crossed over the Aleutian landbridge. Scientists think the modern bobcat first developed in North America about 20,000 years ago. Lynx are a more recent "crossover" (ha ha) from the landbridge. (Man, errrybody crossed over that d*mn land bridge!)
Bobcats range from 28 to 47 inches long, about 14 inches tall, and weigh from 16 to 30 lbs. Male cats are 30 to 40% bigger than females.
These crepuscular mammals mostly enjoy dining on rabbits and hares. They also will eat insects, mice, birds and carrion. Usually bobcats will follow the same pathways to hunting spots. Bobcats can kill deer as well, especially when snow levels are high, or when fawns are small. The bobcat will lie in wait and attack a deer while it is lying down, using its powerful jaw to crush the neck of the deer. Like larger big cats, the bobcat will eat her fill and then hide the remaining carcass for later.
The territories of bobcats vary in size depending on the sex of the cat and time of year. In summer, male bobcats have a range of about 16 square miles, with females about half that size. In winter, the male territory grows to up to 40 square miles. Female territories may overlap with males, but rarely with other females.
It's possible that sis L, and her dog Jake DID hear some bobcat luv the other morning! After mating in March or April, female bobcats give birth to two to four kittens in May. The kittens weigh less than a pound. The babies stay with mama for the first year of their life, and usually become sexually active after their second winter.
Trapping question: One website I visited said bobcat pelts were not worth much; another one said they were pricey. What's the truth?
Ok, onto one of the fuzziest of all animals, the arctic fox!
Soft soft fuzzy fuzzy lovey lovey.
Alopex lagopus is the scientific name for this tundra-dweller. Some scientists want to group it in the Vulpes genus, but the arctic fox has a more rounded skull, snout and shorter, (fuzzy) ears compared to its southern cousin. These compact qualities help the arctic fox retain heat in its frigid habitat, along with warm fur and body fat stores.
Alaska is the only state with a population of these tiny foxes. They also live in Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Russia and Scandinavia. Arctic foxes usually weigh six to ten pounds and are ten to twelve inches tall. Their bodies are about 21 inches long, with a tail measuring about a foot long.
Some arctic foxes live in coastal regions, and feed on sea birds and their eggs. Some live inland, feeding mostly on lemmings. To hunt these rodents, foxes listen for tunneling noises under the snow, and then pounce and attack, breaking the snow with their paws to reach the lemming-hole! Arctic foxes also eat tundra voles and small seal pups, as well as carrion. The population fluctuations of lemmings and arctic foxes are closely related.
In the spring, arctic foxes shed their white fuzz to better match the summer mud:
The above picture is of a little fox pup!
Like the bobcats, arctic foxes make babies in March or April, with the puppies being born 52 days later. Usually about seven to 15 babies are born! Unlike bobcats, both fox parents care for the young. The foxes build complex dens of tunnels, sometimes housing several generations of fox families.
Unfortunately, red foxes are stealing some of the artic foxes' territory, due to the fact that the primary predator of the red fox, the wolf, has been over-hunted in many northern regions.
Well, I hope these images help you stay warm through this late winter storm!
Meanwhile, stay posted for Jamaica creature pictures from our trip; we fly south this Saturday morning!