Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Urban Fauna April 29, 2009

Filed under: fauna — greenwalks @ 9:15 am
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In the city of Seattle, we are pretty much accustomed to co-existing with creatures great and small, wild and tame. In the course of a single day, it’s unremarkable to see a wide variety of birds, insects, marsupials and rodents, as well as the usual variety of domestic pets.

It’s easy to get a bit jaded when there are eagles and herons close by and hummingbirds buzzing around the backyard on a daily basis. So you walk around and see these

Squirrel looking for acorns in spring

and some of these

City chickens free-ranging

evidence of moles unseen

Molehills

hilariously wide cat posing in front of restored door

Big kitty and beautiful door

Nothing too out of the ordinary. But then, on a drive to see friends in the southern part of town but still within city limits, something a little different:

Cow in the city?!

Huh?! I know that Seattle just made it legal to own pygmy goats, but I hadn’t heard about cows! Turns out this is a family farm that has been passed down through generations and is one of two remaining designated farm plots in the city. I guess that’s one way to rid your grass of dandelions! Wonder if it makes the milk taste funky?

What’s the most unusual creature you ever saw in a city?

 

Crow Movie September 23, 2008

Heading to our favorite local gringo Mexican place for lunch with the family on Sunday, I saw a guy with a fancy movie camera set up in the street near the restaurant.

Crowcam

Since we were basically on the University of Washington campus, we thought at first it might be some kind of film class assignment, but we couldn’t figure out what he was filming. Plus, the camera looked too spiffy to be college-course-issue. Then we saw a second guy, camoflauged behind some greenery.

Crowcam II

We got in line (there always a line at Agua Verde), and in front of us was a woman with a walkie-talkie, who occasionally turned around to give pointers to the crew. It seemed pretty obvious that she was directing the film, so I asked her what it was about. She said she and her crew were here in Seattle putting in long hours to follow the movements and learn more about the habits of crows.

In a previous (and somewhat off-topic) post, I mentioned a study by some University of Washington scientists that further proves the intelligence of crows. They can apparently recognize human faces and warn each other about those of us who might need keeping a close eye on. The director, Susan Fleming, has received funding from the Canadian Broadcast Company and other sources to make her film, “A Murder of Crows,” which she hopes will help people to understand more about these often-reviled and, until now, poorly-understood creatures. They are currently filming some of the crows whom the UW scientists had captured and banded with radio frequency tags, and she said that they are getting some really amazing footage. Next stop for the crew is New Caledonia, off the coast of New Zealand, to film the crow population there (the New Caledonian crows are famous for their tool-making). For a short clip from the upcoming documentary, click here.

As the tired and hungry crew took a burrito break and we headed home after our own meal, I saw what could have been their movie star, a lone female who has recently left her parents’ protection, atop a pole. I wonder if she was looking at me too, and if so, would she remember me next time I indulge my cravings for fish tacos and limonata?

Pole crow

Later that day, I saw a pair nosing around in the parking strip near my house. Susan had reminded me that crows generally mate for life, and I definitely looked at this couple with a fresh perspective and an extra dose of respect.

Crow couple