Posted: Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Certain things in the animal world have always amused me but at the same time left me wondering just how well animals and birds communicate with each other. Those simple sounds we hear from time to time have to mean a whole lot more to members of the animal world than just a noise that we hear. With a little thought and perhaps a whole lot more imagination perhaps this is somewhat close to what is actually being said by those birds of the air and the animals that live here among us.

On a wilderness fishing trip in Canada I once left a deck of playing cards on the table under a tarp and headed out fishing. When my group and I returned that evening we found about half of the cards gone! Later that evening we spotted a red squirrel running up a tree carrying one of our playing cards in his mouth! So the card bandit was caught or should I say he was indentified. He disappeared in the thick boughs of the pine tree making it impossible to see just where he was going with our cards.

Carrying that card in relation to his size looked similar to a guy carrying a sheet of plywood with the only difference being I hope the guy would be using his hands to carry the plywood. But then again if he also had to climb a tree while carrying his plywood perhaps the mouth method might be an option.

Imagine Mr. Squirrel arriving home with twenty sheets of paneling (playing cards) that he carried 40 feet up a pine tree. He proudly sets the last one down and says to his wife “I got the new paneling for the house and she replies that is not the print I picked out besides it looks like this paneling gets thinner every year!”

During the time my family rented a house on Daniel’s Lake in Nikiski we had one intruder sneak into our house. A red squirrel came down the chimney and was inside our home when we came home. We opened the front door and started herding him towards the open door very slowly. When he finally spotted the sunlight from the open door he made his dash towards it at high speed. Not even my daughter Alea’s screaming or her dancing feet could deter him as he scurried over her feet and out the door. Alea screamed like she thought she was being attacked by a grizzly bear despite the fact that the red squirrel probably only weighed about 8 oz.

After checking for any possible damage we discovered a small glass squirrel that had been on the mantel above the fireplace had been knocked down and broken. The glass squirrel had been a going away gift from my daughter Jessie’s class when she had to switch schools one year.

What was Mr. Squirrel thinking? Had there been a fight or was it just the opposite, was he attracted to the squirrel? I could only imagine his disappointment and frustration as he sat and thought about the whole situation. “There I was in the Perkovich home and I spotted this sexy babe on the mantel. I ran to join her and as I climbed over all the other worthless junk on this mantel I stumbled and knocked her off the mantel onto the floor. She lost her head over the deal and before I could even say I was sorry the Perkovich family came home and evicted me by chasing me past a screaming girl with dancing feet.”

Ravens have been known to gather at winter kills or basically any place that there is a free meal to be had. How do they know where it is located? My guess is they know how to communicate in some manner. I had a problem with my egg production going down one summer for no apparent reason. Then my son Travis told me a Raven was going into the chicken coup and bothering the chickens. Sure enough I did not have my gill net on top of the chicken pen yet and he was flying in and chasing the hens off the nest and taking 10 to 12 eggs a day!

Imagine him flying home with egg after egg and telling his family he stole them from the Perkovich chicken ranch. Well, apparently he was either stupid or not very convincing because no other ravens participated in the egg theft. In any event, I think the communication might have gone something like this. “Don’t go over there Bob haven’t you seen how many moose, chickens, deer, turkeys and caribou them people cut up every year? Why, they would skin you out faster then it took that squirrel to run out of their house. I would rather starve than end up stuffed on their wall with an egg shoved in my beak!”

I have been in Canada and had camp robbers sit right on my hat and share my breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast. But despite the bird sitting there I’m sure he had many thoughts going through his little head as he gobbled down whatever I placed on my hat for him. “Sit still big guy before I swat you upside the head with one of my powerful wings! How would you like it if you were eating and someone kept moving the table? Don’t even think you’re fast enough or clever enough to catch me! I have been getting free lunches from big slow guys like you every year; I know you couldn’t catch me if you had a forty foot net!”

On one occasion I was small game hunting in Wisconsin when I spooked a cottontail rabbit out of the brush. This rabbit was traveling so fast he took off like a shot and ran right into my hunting partner who was standing on Mr. Rabbit’s trail. On impact the rabbit shot up Larry Ida’s leg and was at least waist high with Larry screaming like a girl and swatting at the rabbit in self defense. I’m sure Larry was thinking he was being attacked by a rabid rabbit.

But what was Mr. Rabbit thinking? Perhaps it was like this “Oh cute, one guy places a guy with coke bottle glasses right on my road with no warning signs, flares or anything to warn me! You should have known by my tracks I have been using that road regularly and would be traveling on there today! Then on top of that you have the screaming guy with the thick glasses shoot at me while falling down thinking you could hit me!” “What a joke, I’m faster than a speeding bullet and I’ll prove that by knocking down ol’ twinkle toes and spitting on him before taking my leave. You will be hearing from my attorney boys!”

See you next week!

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