[Tweeters] "Tree Rat's in the Fog..."

Rob Conway robin_birder at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 23 19:24:38 PDT 2013


I used to have lots of bushtailed tree rats, until I had a pair of Red-tailed hawks nest on the slopes above the house. They thinned the tree rat population rapidly as well as the local population of rabbits and their kin. Now if I could just recruit a Puma or two to help with the local deer to let my roses have a chance...

I've never really lived in a Concrete Jungle - even in San Francisco one of our houses backed onto Sutro Forest which attracted some spectacular birds and another house onto Kite Hill, a bare rocky promentory that often yielded surprises like Burrowing Owl and California Quail. We did still get rats of all kinds - but they were kept mostly in check by coyotes, owls, raccoons, and skunks as well as the feral housecat population. In any case I used to pull my feeders every couple of months for a few days to cut off what was unforunately a steady food supply for rodents of all kinds.

Love your musical tribute. I think that you could go full broadway with North Side Story...

An owl like that, could kill your brother
Leave that bubo and find another ...

Rob Conway
Camas, WA
45.58°N 122.44°W - elevation 310 ft.
robin_birder at hotmail.com

From: gibsondesign at msn.com
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2013 15:08:37 -0700
Subject: [Tweeters] "Tree Rat's in the Fog..."

After reading Rob Conway's, and Rob Sandelin's home reports on tweeters today I got sort of excited, in a vicarious kinda way. "Gosh", I thought, " them guys have pretty nice yards, sounds like! We don't got stuff like that around here!"

And indeed we don't. But we got interest! Plenty of it! The trick is being interested in what you do have where you're at, not just in what you don't have . I live in north Everett across the street from the largest medical edifice north of Seattle. Its on the urban street grid, but we got trees and stuff; a little bit goes a long way,if you're careful.

Take today for example. I awoke, for some strange reason, at 4:30 am. Walking through my dark house to the kitchen for a glass of water, I noticed movement in the trees outside the window. It was totally fogged in (still is), the fog helping disperse the ambient city light so I could see the trees better than usual from inside the dark house. The movement was a rat. "The Everett Tree Rat!" I thought excitedly.

The "Everett Tree Rat" is my name for the Black Rat, also known as the Roof Rat. Not to be confused with the "Bushytailed Tree Rat" - a disparaging name for Eastern Grey Squirrels. The common denominator between these two rodents, is that they are both european imports. However the squirrel gets sympathy and peanuts. The rat don't get any sympathy.

We have lots of rats here, for general neighborhood reasons. We got cats inside, so the rats are outside. Watching them through a thin rippled pane of old glass, I felt perfectly immune from catching a dose of Black Death, or whatever, and so enjoyed the show.

Oh sure, squirrels are great arborial climbers, but the Black Rat makes 'em look sort of clumsy. Those rats can climb down a wire, jump up a tree, run up and down the trunk and run down the smallest branches, all at full bore - really amazing. I saw several up in our tall native Dogwood trees this dark foggy morning.

The sight inspired me to songwriting (at 4:30 in the morning). How's this for a start (to the tune of ' Strangers in the Night'):

"Tree rats in the fog

exchanging glances

avoiding cats and dogs

up in the branches..."

Hey, don't ask me how I invent stuff like this. It just pops out. Maybe somebody like Richard Dawkins could come up with some lame explanation as to why, or how.

So rats have their charms as well as harms.

In and out of the house all morning, I hadn't seen a single bird at home untill now, writing this - a troop of Bushtits in the bushes just outside the window!

Jeff Gibson

urban gorilla

Everett wa

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