Field of Science

Food Chain at Breakfast

As many of my faithful readers know the Phactors own a largish, park-like urban "estate". Many organisms share this space with us, and generally, with a few exceptions like gluttonous woodchucks, their presence is not just tolerated but encouraged. Unfortunately, like many patchy landscapes the animals most affected are the top predators. Screech owls and Cooper's hawks are the most common. Coyote have been spotted exactly twice in the last decade. So, in particular, squirrels and rabbit populations are rather high. About 20 feet from our breakfast table is a sugar maple that serves as a feeding station for our resident squirrels; this handout is not to actually encourage them but to reduce their efforts to raid our four bird feeders in that immediate vicinity. So it was with great delight this AM that while eating my English muffin with red currant jam a red fox streaked around the house and almost nabbed one of our fox squirrels. Oh, that they were so named because they are easy prey, but alas, the sugar maple provides a safe haven and with an inch or so to spare, the rodent escaped, all to the great amazement of our resident felines watching from the warm, safe indoors.

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