Monday, June 30, 2014

Bad Bird Book

Even if I wasn't brain dead from exhaustion and in need a vacation from the vacation I just took, there's nothing I could write today that would be more interesting than this post from Archie McPhee's Geyser of Awesome about the website The Mincing Mockingbird and their book Guide to Troubled Birds.

I'm going to hit Post now and spend the rest of the day ordering the book and reading the entire archive.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bad Animal News Briefs

Baby Moose Takes A Break in Hotel Lobby
Conference Services Manager Katie Nelson said it stayed in the lobby about 10 to 20 minutes, lying on the floor. She said it's a pet-friendly hotel and thought at first it was a dog that had gotten off its leash.
Beaver Attacks, Pulls Man Off Kayak
BayCreek Paddling Center trainer Nate Reynolds saw part of the attack.

"I heard my name called out from the shop and I ran out the door to see a guy getting pulled into the water," Reynolds said, describing the attack. "It was like watching a horror film."

Reynolds said Cavanaugh was able to get to his feet and approach the dock, but the beaver would not let go of him, so Reynolds hit the beaver with a nearby paddle several times.

"The paddle broke and the beaver let go," he said. "He kind of disappeared for a few seconds but came back up so I hit him again."
 Bear Chase at National Institute of Health

A black bear caused a commotion at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, a close-in DC suburb that is definitely NOT out in the country and is way too close for comfort to Animals Behaving Badly Headquarters.  During the chase the bear taunted NIH employees on Twitter:
Sometimes late at night, I sneak into your lab and recalibrate your instruments. Nobody suspects the bear.
When you're done with the monkeys, do you just throw them away? Because, I could totally go for some monkey. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Animals Eating Things They Shouldn't

Today we have three very different stories of animals eating things they shouldn't be eating. The first is one of my favorite types: the charming zoo animal showing a crowd of naive animal lovers what nature is really like:

Polar bear eats peacock in Vienna zoo
Visitors were shocked to witness Lynn demolish the hapless bird, leaving nothing but a couple of feathers, before retiring for an afternoon nap.

It appears the unfortunate bird had taken a shine to the bear's new enclosure during the two and a half year construction period, and clearly had no idea its new residents weren't vegetarians.
From Pennsylvania, a headline that is perfect on its own:

Black Bear eats muffin, ignores police in Silver Spring

And finally, I highly recommend that you go and read this in its entirety, in which a scientist who is in denial about the dietary habits of walruses has to admit that they eat much cuter animals than just clams and other mollusks - and in fact, that science has been studiously ignoring the evidence for well over a century.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Canine classics

Some things never get old, and two of them are vulpine shoe-stealing and dogs driving cars (badly).

In England:
A fox is stealing dozens of shoes in a Leeds suburb and dumping them outside a woman's house.

The problem has become so bad that Elaine Hewitt has been forced to put a shoe rack outside her home in Horsforth so neighbours can reclaim their missing footwear.

Ms Hewitt said the vulpine crimewave began a few months ago when she found a single shoe in her back garden.

The fox is now leaving a shoe a day, ranging from sandals to work boots.

Ms Hewitt, who has seen the fox carrying shoes, said the animal favoured leather footwear and the shoes are not chewed or damaged.

"First of all we just collected them thinking they were too good to throw in the bin," she said. "We had a few phone calls from that and were able to give back and match up a couple of pairs.

"Then I decided the fox was a further afield than just around our immediate vicinity which is when I decided to put the table out on the street.

"The number of vehicles and passers-by who stopped to ask about it, to look and also to take their shoes back was absolutely astounding."

The fox appears to be the mother of five cubs and Ms Hewitt said she hoped the younger members of the family would not be taught about the shoe stealing habit.
And in Massachusetts:
Costello says it all started after he'd taken this normally frisky puppy for a walk by Bolivar Pond in Canton. He hopped into his car, and started it up, but Rosie had her own ideas.

"The dog jumped in and hit the gear shift and the car jerked and she fell on top of the gas pedal," Costello said. "It was just scary."

Then, he said, his puppy drove the car into the pond.

"The car went for a swim. We all did."

That's right: Rosie launched this car right into Bolivar Pond.

"[The] car was right here you can see the tracks," Costello said.

The 911 call even surprised Canton police.

"I've never heard of a puppy driving a car into a pond," said Officer Robert Quirk of the Canton police.
Despite the dangerous struggle required to save Rosie from the sinking vehicle, as usual, no one seems to blame the dog:
Canton police posted this lighthearted tweet, with a picture of the pup and a caption that read, "Perp says she was just going with the flow of traffic."

And Hermann says it's a day he won't soon forget.

"I work a lot of weekends and none as exciting as this one," he said.

As for Costello, the car - his daughter's - is a total a loss, but he says he has insurance. As for Rosie - she's ok - and unaware of all the commotion she caused Sunday.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dead Duck Day Report

You can now read the full report of this year's Dead Duck Day, and the message I was honored to write, at this link.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Happy Dead Duck Day!

It's a very special Dead Duck Day, because I have been given the honor of writing the message to to read at this year's ceremony. I'll post a link when it is available. In the meantime, watch this TED talk by Kees Moeliker, giant in the science of bad duck behavior and organizer of the event.

Get your own devilduckie here

Monday, June 2, 2014

Animals Where They Shouldn't Be

- In Florida,  a bear that was tuckered out after rummaging through trash cans found a hammock in one resident's backyard and decided to have a rest.
"He got in the hammock like he was a tourist or something," said Vincent James, who owns the home and the hammock. "Then something spooked him and he ran right back there. Then half an hour later I come back and I saw there he is in the hammock again."
As usual, authorities washed their hands of the matter, saying that they wouldn't do anything because the bear wasn't "threatening" anyone. So, sadly, James decided that his only defense was to get rid of his lovely hammock.

-In England, police got an unusual call: a squirrel had jumped into a woman's handbag and refused to leave.
Officers arrived and removed the rodent, but before you rejoice that officials did the right thing for a change, the plot thickens: this was a non-native, invasive gray squirrel:
Under section 9 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act, it is an offence to release a grey squirrel into the wild. According to Red Squirrels Northern England, an organisation which works to protect red squirrels: "This means if you trap one, you are obliged to humanely dispatch it.
"You must not let it go as this act would be illegal."
In response to this, the police spokesman replied, no doubt with a wink:
 "I'm sure the squirrel in this case had managed to escape before a cage could be found."
And before you laugh that the woman called the police in the first place, read on:

-In Texas,  a woman was attacked by her neighbor's pet squirrel:
Elizabeth Orzechowska said she was unloading groceries from her car when she felt something climb up her leg.

"So, I looked down and it was a squirrel," Orzechowska said to Local 2. "It started running up my back, started scratching my back and biting my back."
Orzechowska went to the emergency room where she spent five hours getting stitched up and treated with antibiotics. She said she is in pain, her hands are swollen an she is unable to work. 
This incident belongs under today's heading because no one should have a pet squirrel in their home: it's illegal to keep one in Texas (and probably most if not all other places in the US.)  Knowing this, the woman released the rodent into the wild before it could be seized.

-Finally, from South Carolina, I leave you with this picture of an alligator at an outlet mall: