Archive for the ‘Wild Animals’ Category

Olympocalypse! The word that rhymes with “Rick”!

– Boardercross is way more exciting than I thought.

– Curling don’t get no TV love in the opening matches.

– The UK press really, really, really wants us to be embarrassed about our Olympics, but it’s pretty apparent it’s mostly collective nervousness they’ll be embarrassed of their own. British pals and pals of pals seem pretty supportive however and have carefully explained the press there is rarely indicative of the people. Fair enough.

– On Monday, ESPN columnist Rick Reilly was backhandedly complimentary of Canada for US readers. Met with huffy, Canadian indignation, Reilly open hand slaps Canada, then half-apologizes, asking, “Baby, why ya make me hit ya like that?”

I realize, slightly patronizing as it is, Reilly’s original blog was intended to be comedy. Cutting, condescending, stereotype-laden comedy, but comedy nonetheless. His response to Canadian offense however… well, to put it in Canadian terms Rick will think he understands; take off, eh?

Let’s take a look inside Rick’s tickle-trunk of loathing and see what’s inside, shall we?

The urban wildlife

As Vancouver and its suburbs grow outwards the wildlife that used to live in the forests of British Columbia start to get sucked into the city.

Having lived on the outskirts of Kelowna for years (in the area known as the Wildlife Interface) I got used to seeing wildlife as I waited for the school bus. It made sense in Kelowna though, I was about a three minute drive from a giant forest (before God burnt it down). In the middle of Vancouver though it’s still a bit shocking to see wild animals roaming around.

By my girlfriend’s place near Main Street there’s been a coyote for the last few months. Last night we saw it roaming around, and tried to do some safari-esque animal photography. It didn’t work out that well.

As Metro-Vancouver expands (the city not this website) we will be seeing more animals trying to find a way to live in urban and suburban settings where they don’t belong.

A local bald eagle’s nest

On the corner of Pandora Street and Kamloops in East Vancouver, in a great big old tree, sits an eagle’s nest. One of my co-workers took me to see the nest yesterday after work, as it’s just around the corner from where she lives. When we got there around 5:00 last night, there wasn’t much to see, but when I came back at 8:30, there was a bit of action going on. I was told by a few locals walking by that there are two full-grown eagles – on male, one female and two “babies”. I could barely see the young eagle – he was pretty much camouflaged in the tree with his black and brown feathers, but the mother was perched up top of the tree, mostly ignoring the dive bombing of some crows and a seagull. From time to time, the mother would fly around the tree with the crows following her, and then she’s just end up back on top of the tree. The young eagle was screeching the whole time I watching. They are really noisy birds.

Eagle getting dive bombed

The people in the neighbourhood seem used to the attention and if they know anything about the eagle they are happy to tell you all about it. I was told from time to time, an environmentalist comes to the tree and gives information about the eagles as well. The eagle family has been using the nest for the last three years and the neighbourhood was surprised and happy to see them back this year after all the windstorms we had this past spring.

Just a note – the nest is located in a tree on someone’s property, so if you go to have a look, just please be aware of the homeowner’s property. I could see the eagles very well from the alley and also on the sidewalk and public grassy area right across the street from the house. There was no need at all for me to walk on the person’s lawn to have look.

Cuter Than Knut

When it comes to animals so cute your head almost explodes because you cannot handle the cuteness they emit, the baby polar bear at the Berlin Zoo, has been getting all the attention lately. But, one of the top videos on You Tube at the moment was filmed right here in Vancouver, at the Aquarium in Stanley Park. Our very own “Otters Holding Hands” are taking the internet by storm for their 15 minutes. Eat your heart out, Knut.

Selfish Human Complains Yet Again

Cloverdale Dead Crow

Being pro-crow, I was disgusted to read about another person complaining about the birds in the Burnaby News Leader. Barbara Watt, some fish inspecting twit, had little compassion for the birds and their use of the Still Creek area for their nightly roosting. It seems that, while the Burnaby roost hasn’t changed, the trees the roosting crows once used were cut down six months ago, forcing the birds to encroach into the office district.

“If you want a volunteer with a pellet gun, I’m in,” she says, offering two lame reasons for wanting to get rid of the birds: the excrement on the soles of her shoes and, most especially, because the birds make her wash her car.*

Let’s see, humans – a pestilential species – can flush their shit down the toilet with impunity, not really giving any thought into whose backyard it goes, yet they can cut down the crows’ habitat and then complain when the birds land a poop in our territories.

Along with the whiners who live on our clearcut mountainsides and freak out when a bear gobbles up their shih tzu, it’s obvious Vancouverites are liars when they say they live here for the nature. What? You only want the bald eagles and the killer whales?

*Birds shitting on your car is good luck, in Romanian superstition. Canadians really should learn to appreciate this fact.

Coquitlam Owl Attacks

Photo of Mundy Park’s Lost Lake courtesy Matt Musselman.

The owls are going crazy, according to one jogger in Coquitlam’s Mundy Park. Jogger Linda Epplette received several cuts to her scalp, requiring a tetanus shot and an appointment with a chiropractor; the Now interviewed three others who have also been the victims of barred owl attacks.

The birds seem to hate bald heads and ponytails. Most likely, as Ministry of Environment bird specialist Myke Chutter points out, “They could be young birds who have just fledged and they’re looking to set up and defend their territory for the next year.” Or, says SFU biologist David Green, “If they have young or they’ve been nesting nearby, then for some individuals, humans are sort of a potential threat.”

Also known as the northern barred owl, the swamp owl, the striped owl, the hoot owl, the eight hooter, the round-headed owl, le chat-huant du nord (French for “the hooting cat of the north”), the wood owl, the rain owl and, mistakenly, as the bard owl, their only known enemy is the great horned owl.

But they will fight just about anyone to protect their nests.

Snakes at a Fair (Kensington Community Fair)

Rearing snake, Kensington Community Fair
Rearing snake, Kensington Community Fair

As fairs go, the Kensington Community Fair is a slightly odd one. This is a small neighbourhood fair held at Kensington Park (Kensington & Hastings) in North Burnaby that this year was on Saturday 12 August.

Attendance is good, but most of the people attending are neighbourhood residents, and possibly a good proportion of those realizing there was a fair on that day only because they passed it on their way to or from home. As such, the feel of the fair is more like an open house than a fair: not many people go there to buy stuff; there are few merchants, and those that are there tend to be neighbourhood purveyors of services–music instruction, karate lessons, that sort of thing. Most of the booths are those of local charities, societies, and clubs.

But as I said, the fair is a slightly odd one.

What did that bear ever do to you? had to look twice just to make sure the effect wasn’t intended by the original artist.

Yup. Some vandal has definitely tagged the country-style spirit bear at the corner of Smythe and Burrard outside the Paramount Theatre.

Graffiti has been part of the urban scene since before Rome’s most famous citizen scrawled “Julius wuz here” on beachfront property in England. It will always be with us.

Actually, some of it, I don’t mind; on back alleys, overpasses and underneath bridges, people with too much time on their hands can go ahead and stake out as much turf as they like. Some of the art is even appealing.

Little Sparrow Garden

Sparrow Garden

Along Granville, in the downtown core, there is the Little Sparrow Garden. Does anyone know who made it? What’s the deal behind it? It’s such a cute idea – does anyone know if there are other public gardens around town for other birds?

Cutie Bee

Among the best things in Europe and Japan are the super-cute cartoon characters that infiltrate the landscape. Everything worthwhile had an illustrated mascot that made you go awww. The Qoo cat in Japan and a plethora of European cuties from the Moomins to Cheburashka, Jeremy/Colargol and Tintin come to mind.

Canada and the US have always lagged in the cute department, ever since Mickey Mouse changed his eye shape. Now, thanks to the Japanese craze gripping North America, we’re finally getting some homegrown cuties.

Check out the new banners that adorn Hastings Street in Burnaby, the Lower Mainland’s up and coming coolest neighbourhood:

Cutie Bee

An adorable bee, jolly flowers and a sun spewing out rays fashioned on Japan’s notorious imperialist flag – aside from the psychedelic writing, what an hommage to its Japanese inspiration!

The rest of the Lower Mainland: take heed!

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