Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Urban Coyote or Dream Spirit?

Stan Gerht holds a female coyote captured in the Chicago metro area

During the night about 2 a.m. I awoke and glanced out the bedroom window. Trotting quickly past and disappearing into an alley was what appeared to be a coyote. I ran to the back door and out to the gate but the animal was gone. I know what a coyote looks like. The ears ,face,tail,that walk, it had to be but never would I have imagined to see this outside my front door.

The ground was clear of snow after a warm day so no tracks to capture an image . Was this a dream brought on by all the recent reading of Hillerman reservation mystery's? How does one go about checking local sightings? Should this be mentioned to anyone? So many react badly to this kind of information.

Google has an answer to all questions. Of course a university has an urban coyote study and of course it is of the Chicago area. I was very surprised by the findings.

Apparently coyotes are very common in urban areas with Chicago being no exception.
"It's not uncommon to see a coyote pass through an urban or suburban neighborhood."
“We couldn't find an area in Chicago where there weren't coyotes,” Gehrt said.

Urban coyotes are more active at night and so seldom seen by people. They live longer lives in urban areas than rural counterparts and do a real service by eating pests like rodents and canadian geese eggs.

So it looks like I may have seen a real coyote and not some mythical native american appariton.

STAN GEHRT research news archives

Seed Magazine Wily Coyote moves to windy city

Wild About Pets pictures of Chicago coyotes
An excellent radio interview with Stan Gehrt about coyotes in urban areas to which that you can listen, as well as great pictures.

Chicago Wilderness Magazine predator comeback
the coyote baby boom of the late 1990s in Cook County provoked the largest study of urban coyotes to date in the world. Authored by Gehrt and a team working with Max McGraw, around 200 radio-collared coyotes were tracked for six years. Results have suggested that as many as 2,000 coyotes may be making a good living in the county and that their presence as keystone predator is far more beneficial than dangerous. Only five of the collared coyotes have been removed as nuisances, and there have been no reports of coyotes biting humans in Cook County. (Compare that to 3,000 dog bites reported most years.) The coyotes’ main diet of voles and other small mammal pests has had a significant effect on rodent control, and, to some extent, on the overpopulation of white-tailed deer. They have even been credited with checking the growth of Canada goose flocks that burgeoned in the 1980s. A recent videotape study found coyotes raiding goose nests for eggs.
“They’re an important part of the ecosystem,” says Glowacki, “and we definitely don’t want them gone.”

But what about cougars? How much of that historic territory can we give back to a predator with a record, however rare, of attacking human beings? As a matter of public safety, won’t we really be forced to shoot or relocate them all?
“That’s a legitimate question,” says Gehrt. “The cold, hard truth is that it’s not easy to hunt down or trap mountain lions. In fact, it’s pretty hard. And they’re serving a role in an ecosystem that has been out of whack in and around the cities for a long time. They can have an effect on the overabundance of white-tailed deer, which are a major problem for property damage and even death. There are many, many more people killed in auto collisions with deer than will ever be killed by cougars. Still, the only time we hear about the large predators is when they’re in conflict with people, which means that any suggestion for management programs will have to deal with public fear.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Winter at Millennium Park is here!

Check out upcoming Free winter events in the Park.

Caroling at Cloud Gate
Fridays at 6pm, thru December 19.
Millennium Park's holiday tradition Caroling At Cloud Gate (pdf) returns featuring Chicago's favorite choral groups:

The Wooten Choral Ensemble
December 5

Chicago Chamber Choir
December 12

Chicago Children's Choir
December 19 Chicagoans and visitors alike are invited to sing-along and enjoy complimentary coffee and hot cider courtesy of Caribou Coffee. Caroling at Cloud Gate is supported by the Comer Foundation.

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, now in its 8th season and drawing more than 100,000 skaters annually, is free and open to the public. Skate rental is available for $10.
The Ice Rink is located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets in Millennium Park. The season continues thru March 15.

Winter Garden Stroll Through The Lurie
Saturday, December 6, 10am Meet at Cloud Gate.
Take a casual yet informative walk through the Lurie Garden and discover the richness that winter brings. Tours are approximately one hour and are led by Lurie Garden Staff.

Lurie Garden Winter Lecture Series
Tuesday, December 9, 6pm
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.

Join the Lurie Garden staff and Joel Greenberg, author of 'A Natural History of the Chicago Region' and co-author of 'A Birder's Guide to the Chicago Region' for the December winter lecture. Greenburg will read from his newest book, a collection of first-person narratives written between 1721 and 1959. These unique voices from the land present an unexpected and fascinating portrait of Chicago. Books will be available for sale.

Hands-on Family Workshop: Flower Frenzy
Saturday, December 13, 10am - 12pm
Chicago Cultural Center , 78 E. Washington St. Learn the parts of a flower and why each part is important to the plant. Dissect and investigate real flowers, then make some flower-based crafts to take home. Pre-registration required, please call 312.742.5519.

Learn more (pdf) about other upcoming Lurie Garden lectures and family events.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Fresh snowfall in the garden.

One of those heavy wet snows that cling causing everything to droop or flatten.

Well not everything, the coneflowers seem to stand through all winter brings.

This panicum will rebound as the snow melts,at least it did last year. It was much larger this year.

Shrubs and trees look lovely in white in front of house.

Groundcovers have disappeared under lumpy blankets of snow.

The Hobbit garden.

Along back fence. A few ragged leaves frozen in place on the oakleaf hydrangea. A screen loosened by wind.

Out the back door.

I really like winter and snow in the garden.