Right in Our Backyards: Survival of the Fittest

Things are usually fairly quiet when I jog along the streets around the Milton neighborhood in the early hours, but every now and then something exciting happens.

Published October 21, 2011 6:31 PM
3 min read

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backyathumbThings are usually fairly quiet when I jog along the streets around the Milton neighborhood in the early hours, but every now and then something exciting happens.

 

By Bill Lawyer

Things are usually fairly quiet when I jog along the streets around the Milton neighborhood in the early hours, but every now and then something exciting happens.

 

backOn a recent Sunday morning, I was jogging down the hill on Dearborn Avenue toward Milton Road when I saw a lot of cars backed up going toward the point. When I got to Milton, I saw that cars were backed up the other way, as well. This was the morning of the Triathlon, so I expected some traffic, but nothing like this.

 

Well, it turned out that a “delegation” of ducks had ventured out onto the road from their “duck digs” at the corner of Milton and Locust Lane. And they were in no hurry to leave.

 

When I got there, a couple drivers had already gotten out of their cars and were shooing them back into their yard. In this case, fortune smiled on these “daffy” ducks.

 

A less positive survival outcome occurred the following Saturday – again as I was jogging along Dearborn toward Milton. But this time it was at the corner of Everett. I was just starting to turn onto Everett when I spotted a bird flying by me going to a feeder in the yard on the southwest corner.

Apparently the bird, a sparrow as far as I could tell – it all happened so fast – had spotted some bird food on the ground under the feeder. It came down for a landing, and within an instant was pounced upon by a cat lurking under a nearby bush.

 

Sometimes larger predators actually take the food chain one link further, eating the cat that ate the bird … as the nursery rhyme goes. In this case, it could have been a hawk or falcon, as many birds of prey are migrating south this time of year, and on the lookout for a “fast food” break.

 

Sometimes, after reading my Backyard columns, people ask me if I make these things up.  Not a chance, but admittedly many days can go by when I don’t see anything of interest.

 

That’s not the case this time of year because fall is a busy time in the world of nature. In addition to migration, many year-round “residents” are looking for shelters for the winter.

 

By the way, the National Audubon Society has launched a major educational campaign to alert people about the threat posed by cats to the bird populations of American urban areas. Audubon’s two major recommendations are keep cats indoors and don’t put bird feeders too close to “cover” where a crafty cat can lie in wait.

 

If you want to see carnivores in action, just get out and jog the roads right in our backyards.

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