Behind the Mask: Pumpkin Stuffing   Leave a comment

As many of us are finishing up those Thanksgiving feast leftovers (last to go: Turkey casserole); and looking forward to the upcoming Christmas feast (first to go: Gravy. People never get enough gravy), what was once fresh and inviting too often sits at the back of the refrigerator, largely overlooked, until one day discovered and cleared out to make room for the next well-intentioned-for-lunch but possibly forgotten foil-wrapped package or plastic container. And while each year the average household throws away the equivalent of two dozen meals, it’s not just family and friends who are enjoying the seasonal bounty; in what we consider ‘trash’ is a waiting banquet for wildlife seen and unseen; who may be looking forward to our scraps even more than we’re savoring that second helping of mashed potatoes. And gravy.

Wildlife, all with natural histories and families going back hundreds of generations and thousands of years before man, never expected to live in today’s world. While some have been forced into ever-decreasing territories and others are now extinct, a few have become synanthropic species that have become quite successful in our human world. The American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) – a dirunal, or active in the daytime animal; and Raccoon (Procyon lotor), more of a nocturnal, nightime explorer; work round the clock navigating our urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods, not only living but thriving in a world built for humans, but suiting some animals rather well.

Christmas raccoon

“…OH, you mean that spunkpin pie? I’m keeping it safe…IN MY TUMMY!”


While the two can scarcely be considered partners (in fact, crows don’t trust raccoons and raccoons only accept crows because they raid crow nests and eat crow eggs – which is probably why they have earned crow disrespect), both species, furred and avian alike, have evolved similar – or modified existing – behaviors to exploit our unique human-environments: Both are omnivorous, seeking and eating anything that can be eaten from insects to seeds to convenience store pizza (which really takes a, let’s say, talent to eat); both find, and make homes, in any area that’s deemed protected and dry, not being too choosy between trees (nests in branches for crows; holes in trunks for raccoons), to eves and under the overhangs of buildings to, for our masked friends, any old abandoned log on the ground or hole in the wall. (Literally. In many cities, particularly where the climate is harsh, raccoons find their ways into attics, basements, or even inside walls). But one behavior shared by both, obvious yet often disturbing to some people, is the animals’ fondness for what we would rather not think of : Roadkill and human trash.

While disgusting to some, the fact is something has to happen to everything, and putting trash on the curb for pickup – or putting the unfortunate victims of roadkill out of our minds (the animals too slow, too trusting, or too engaged in just going about their business who fall victims to our cars; or rather, the drivers of those cars) doesn’t just mean these things go away; but rather, they re-enter the food chain by becoming food for someone else. While we may not intend our trash to become some animals dinner (and if they are going to tear open those garbage bags, just don’t make such a mess of it), it’s not a presumption of wildlife taking advantage of a convenient and free meal, but rather it’s us, as humans, who have created a human-centric world in which these animals have learned to survive. And as we dispose the remainders from our next feast – from a Holiday, or celebration, or for many of us a typical dinner – remember that leftover stuffing (and gravy!), might be going directly into stuffing someone else.


Michonne Says: Raccoons and kraw-crows might not be the most friendly, but they aren’t anything for marmots to be afraid of. I’ve seen kraw-crows scare off hawks so that’s good for everyone, except maybe the hawk. I don’t know what raccoons do, they always seem to be up to something and that something usually causes trouble so it’s best to just keep away before that trouble finds you, too.

Posted December 13, 2015 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in ECOVIA Central

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