Field of Science

Nature coming into balance

Small mammals sometimes have their highest populations in urban areas; human habitations provide food and shelter, and few of their predators do well in urban areas.  So it was with this in mind that the Phactors cheered the arrival of a pair of red-tailed hawks in the vicinity of our little part of urban nature.  Having been alerted to their presence, although they are bloody hard to miss, neighbors report seeing on one occasion a hawk dining on fox squirrel and from another direction, a bit of fresh rabbit.  For the time being these top predators, not usually urban dwellers, seem to be doing quite well for themselves, and in the process tipping nature back into balance.  This is just great!  The bunnies in particular are out of control and one of the ways you can tell is when they nibble on things that they usually leave completely alone: scilla, crocus, and the ever-green leaves of a rock garden pink.  On campus a wide array of shrubs have been quite thoroughly girdled where bunnies have gnawed the bark off.  The Phactors set up an elaborate gulag of fenced concentration camps through out the yard to keep the bunnies at bay.  Now of course if a great blue heron shows up in the lily pond, we'll be singing a different tune.


nycguy said...

Red hawks have been happily living in Manhattan for about 15 years:

Anonymous said...

I have a problem with hares eating the tulips and the crocuses and doing their share of girdling young trees; then we have the porcupines who can go down a bed of spring bulbs and munch off every bloom. But think of my dismay this week to find that the bear had dug furiously in the "wetland" bed and torn out clethra, bayberry, iris and mints. I can hardly wait for the roses to begin blooming, so that the red squirrels can pick the flowers and leave them on the deck - to taunt me?

The Phytophactor said...

A bear? OK, you win!