Archive for March, 2009

One of the most incongruous sounds in the wilderness (in our humble opinion) is the ratchety-raspy machine-like defense/distress call of an alarmed squirrel. We’re (obviously) having a hard time describing it, but will tell you with certainty that when you are hiking in the woods, you’ll darn well know when you’ve managed to perturb one of these critters.

Of course, the ones we are used to seeing around town would have time to do nothing but rasp themselves silly if they made all that fuss in, say, your local park. Nope, like the ravens and crows we talked about in the previous post, our squirrel neighbors have learned not just to live, but to thrive among us.

They do love our attics, decks, and sheds, and are only too happy to take up residence therein. (You didn’t think they were all out there building nests in trees, did you?)

They are also pretty darn smart when it comes to getting fed. They find bird feeders pretty easy pickings, much to the annoyance of many. No matter what contraptions we invent to keep them off the feeders, they seem to solve the puzzle. Take a look at this video from a British documentary:

Pretty remarkable, huh?


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Whichever of the noisy, omnipresent black birds we have here in Portland (we believe it’s ravens, please correct us if we’re wrong), they are always a reminder that bit of wild nature still exist in the midst of our busy city lives.

While their call may not be the most mellifluous sound you ever heard, and there are theories out there that they may have something to do with the declining numbers of songbirds, there’s one thing you can’t take away from them: They know not only how to live among us humans, but to use our technology for their own purposes–in ways that are pretty amazing, actually.

Here’s a youtube clip of some pretty clever crows using cars as giant rolling nutcrackers–even refining the technique to work with crosswalks and traffic signals:

How did they come upon this knowledge? Probably just a coincidence the first time, but to put two and two together like that and actually plan that outcome is . . . well, it’s beyond anything we’d ever think possible for a bird, put it that way.

There are lots more such clips on youtube, Like this one where a crow uses bread (which, mind you, he could just as well eat himself) to catch a fish (looks like a Bluegill to us).

Kind of makes you wonder just who we have living among us, doesn’t it?

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All 58?

Ken Burns’ latest film project got us thinking: would it be reasonable, (or even a remotely possible) goal to try and visit every last one of America’s national parks in one’s lifetime? Our searching of the interwebs has uncovered at least one man who did so–who, in fact, did even better by visiting all 388 sites in the NP system.

As you can tell by Alan Hogenauer’s story, 388 was a 50-year project. It wouldn’t take nearly as long to get the 58 parks (heck, a busy week or so in and around Utah could net you seven of them right there) but it would, of course still take some serious time and effort.

We’ve googled ourselves silly and we’re kind of surprised that we can’t find anyone else who has done it–just a lot of people who have stated visiting every national park as a lifetime goal. Will they get there? Who knows.

There are quite a few people who have visited every Major League ballpark, however, in case you were interested.

So, if you want to do this seemingly very doable thing that surprisingly few people (maybe just one?) have done, we’re thinking the keys are dedication and getting a somewhat early start.

So go do it!

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Oh, and if you do, please take your camera!

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