Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Terrible Bird Incident, and other tales of wildlife

After abandoning the New Ro shopping cart herd to their relentless mating and dominance behavior, I feared that I would be bereft of wildlife in my new environs. Not so! Here in Mamaroneck, the wildlife is out, and it is about. There are herds of bad-ass squirrels, and the other night we spotted a skunk drunkenly sauntering across the front lawn and through the neighbor's hedge (Run! Be free!) The last time I saw a live skunk it was in New Ro and it had a Carvel ice cream cup stuck on its head. It had poked its snout right through the big plastic straw hole and was weaving about on Jackson Street, shaking its head madly. I was about to go and rescue the animal but my husband gently reminded me that it was, after all, a skunk.

Right now, as I sit on the porch, I can hear a Screech Owl hooting gently every few seconds. After each hooting call, something answers with a small clucking hiccup. What that something is is unknown, but it sounds an awful lot like a duck. Yes, a duck. Now admittedly, there is a "duck theme" on our street as the owner of Mamaroneck's Duck Inn lives down the way, with a profusion of ducklike and swanlike objet d'art in the front yard. There may be a mating quality to the back-and-forth interchange, or maybe the baby duck is gonna get et. The hooting and the clucking have now set the neighborhood dogs to barking, so the place is alive with noise! People are drifting out of houses in their nightgowns to see what's amiss.

On our first night here, there was The Terrible Bird Incident. In the middle of the night, we heard shrieks and horrible caterwauling. It went on for a while, and made sleep difficult. During the fight, we heard a loud and tinny "bang! bang! bang!" noise which added to the creepy mystery. The next morning, we discovered that the backyard was peppered with feathers. Some creature had come a-cropper, and had been pecked clean of its plumage. Several days later, we discovered the tail of a fish lying in the grass. No doubt the winged beasts had clashed over the prize, and only one lived to tell the tale (although we never found a beak or other evidence of truly foul play).

The squirrels are another matter. They are a lively and wily bunch of scalawags, and can be heard outside the windows as they gnaw incessantly on Black Walnuts. Sometimes they chase one another over the lawn, cackling madly, and hide up in the treetops to survey the property. They are feisty, sharp-toothed, and rather plump. I fear their numbers are growing. They like to hurl the Black Walnuts against the tin roof of neighbor's shed, which sounds like a shotgun going off. (Hence the "bang! bang!" sounds during the bird fight, which the squirrels must have observed with infinite pleasure, enjoying their walnuts like popcorn.)

If the birds and the squirrels decide to get together, we are all doomed.

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