Martha Moose Introduces Newest Staff Member

The ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’ is back on our property after taking the summer off.

Martha Moose has a new calf and she brought it (Morley) for a visit a few weeks ago.

Yesterday they were back again and ready to go to work. Morley chose a baby moose size willow bush.

When the willow had been reduced in size somewhat, Morley moved into ‘grass mower mode’.

Martha, who was following Morley’s progress, inspected the work done on the willow bush – and decided it would be best to prune it right to the ground.

Now thirsty, Morley executed a perfect ‘reverse direction and lunge procedure’ that seemed to catch Martha right off guard. Morley managed a few quick gulps before Martha let out a bellow and a sidestep that unlatched her baby. Though she is probably several months away from completely weaning Morley, it seemed like she was sending the baby a message.

To be honest, I don’t know if this adult moose is the same moose that frequented our yard last year – though the patterns of travel, bedding areas and foraging choices are identical to the moose and calf that visited our property last year.

For my other moose stories, click the ‘moose’ tag at the end of this post.

What do you call a moose with no name?
Anonymoose.

What do you call the leader of a group of moose?
Mooselini.

I tried getting on a plane with a dead moose once.
The attendant said I had to check it as luggage. I said, no it’s carrion.

Police Car Moth – Black and White

The Police Car Moth gets its name from the overall black and white wing colouration and two orange-red spots on the collar (like a police car). It is a Diurnal moth (flies during the day) unlike most moths which fly at night. One way to differentiate between butterflies and moths is to look at the antenna. Moths have feathered antenna and butterflies have clubbed ends.


The Flutter Files

Name: Police Car Moth
Species:
Gnophaela vermiculata
Native to: A common western North American species found from southern British Columbia across to western Manitoba and south to northern New Mexico.
Date Seen:
August 2021
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes:
Adults feed on nectar from flowers such as thistle and goldenrod.

The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.
– Paula Poundstone –

Color television! Bah, I won’t believe it until I see it in black and white.
– Samuel Goldwyn –

It’s an amazing thing to watch a lizard fold a moth into its mouth, like a sword swallower who specialises in umbrellas.
– Elizabeth McCracken –

If intelligence were a television set, it would be an early black-and-white model with poor reception, so that much of the picture was gray and the figures on the screen were snowy and indistinct. You could fiddle with the knobs all you wanted, but unless you were careful, what you would see often depended more on what you expected or hoped to see than on what was really there.
– Madeleine Albright –

Thieves Steal Lumber

Only in Canada, you say…

Royal Canadian Mounted Police News Release:

May 11, 2021; Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan

On May 7, Porcupine Plain RCMP responded to a theft complaint in a rural area. An individual had left some posts piled on a property they planned on fencing, only to find they’d gone missing.

Officers began investigating the post-plundering, but the caper was quickly revealed when the posts were spotted in a nearby waterway.

“The stolen posts were located in a beaver dam,” explains Cst. Conrad Rickards of the Porcupine Plain RCMP Detachment. “A beaver – or beavers – helped themselves to the stash of posts and used them to help build a dam. I tried locating said beavers but they were GOA (gone on arrival).”

“None of the beavers will face charges”, he says. “Who could really blame these little bucktooth bandits, considering the price of wood these days?”

Porcupine Plain RCMP has now closed this extremely Canadian case.”

A beaver dam, containing the fence posts a beaver stole from a nearby property.

When I first saw this story I thought maybe it was a joke or satire. What were the chances that there is a Porcupine Plain RCMP detachment and that beavers ripped off a pile of fence posts!? Then I found the story repeated by some major news outlets – and then I found the Porcupine Plain RCMP report on their website. The only way this story could have been any better is if the report had been filed by the Beaverlodge Alberta Detachment.

Only in Canada – got me thinking about things I’ve said that are very Canadian:

The Car Guy got a dozen Timbits with a large double double while he was in town. (Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop donut holes and a coffee with double cream and sugar.)

The party crowd said a mickey cost about the same as a two-four last summer. (375 ml. -13 oz- bottle of liquor compared to a 24 bottle case of beer.)

I had ten loonies but no toonies in my pocket. (Our one dollar coin is a loonie, the two dollar coin is a toonie. The loonie has a depiction of a loon on it. The toonie has a Polar Bear… you would think we would call it a Bearie or a Polie…)

Daughter has been knitting up a storm – she has five touques now. (Touque or tuque is a very simple, pointed, knitted hat.)

It’s only 5 clicks to town. (A click is a kilometre.)

I’m done like dinner. (Too tired to work anymore.)


What phrases or words are unique to where you live?

For more Canadian Humour: Best Canadian Puns, Jokes and Observations
Canadian Snowbird Stories
Lighter Side of Canadian Governments
The Beery Best of Canada
Canada Thanks you Mr. Beaver

Moose – Nature at our Door

Most people never get to see a moose in the wild. In contrast, in our neighbourhood it seems like just about everyone is talking about ‘their moose’ – the sightings are that frequent!

I recently watched a video from the CBC’s series The Nature of Things called The Incredible Things I’ve Seen while Following a Moose and her Calf for a Year.

A field naturalist, Hugo Kitching, spent 13 months tracking two mother/calf moose pairs  in Jasper National Park (Alberta) so he could document the dangers to moose calves in their first year of life. These mountain moose are in decline – death rates for baby moose are high. A year tracking moose in Jasper National Park is a short story of Hugo’s experience. It gives a further glimpse into the challenges Hugo faced in finding and following these majestic mountain dwelling animals (and avoiding the animals that make a baby moose’s life so dangerous.)

As I watched the video, I kept thinking how much easier it would be to do a similar study of Alberta foothills/prairie dwelling moose. Tracking the moose in our neighbourhood, for example, would sometimes be nothing more than walking out the front door. Other days the search for the moose might take longer, but it would be on mostly flat terrain that is never more than a mile from a road… it is easy to see why The Nature of Things never did a video called “Watching Alberta Prairie Moose is like Watching Paint Dry”.

Moose (Alces alces) colonized the Parkland Region of Alberta during the 1980s and early 1990s, and later colonized the Grassland Region by the early 2000s. They are not a declining species here because there are few areas with the major predators – wolves (Canis lupus), black bears (Ursus americanus), and grizzly bears (U. arctos). Cougars (Felix con-color) are also at very low density, although the abundant coyotes are a small but possible threat. Between 2001 and 2014, the provincial moose population increased ~25% from 92,000 to 115,000. (Status and Management of Moose in the Parkland and Grasslands of Alberta .)

One thing that I learned from the video: our mama moose will drive her calf away later this spring in preparation for giving birth to her next calf! Hard to say how far the calf will go, though, since there are already two other moose loosely associated with the mother moose – possibly her calves from the previous few years… but I’m just guessing.

Mother of all moose and her almost year old calf.

Here are all the moose photos I’ve posted so far.

There are about 700,000 moose in Canada. That means there is one moose for every 54 Canadians ! Mostly moose choose to live where people don’t live, however…

To set the record straight, moose are rarely dangerous and they are vegetarians…

 

Treed – Man Vs Moose

Piecing together the story

What I saw: The neighbour up the road hired a Tree Trimmer/Remover for a job that was well beyond the capabilities of the crew at the ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’.  The work was such that a man, with a chain saw, climbed a tall tree and then methodically removed branches. When that was done, he would then be able to take down a ‘skinny’ tree that wouldn’t damage the surrounding shrubbery nearly as much.

He had removed most of the branches when I walked by on the road. I stopped to watch, partly because it is quite interesting to see a man confidently using a chainsaw when he is about 25 feet up in the air… and partly because one of the Munching Moose was calmly eating the branches that the man had dropped to the ground.

In turn, the man was taking pictures of the Moose on his cell phone. (This is when I wished I carried a cell phone). I headed for home as fast as my little legs could carry me. Fifteen minutes later I was back at the scene with my camera, but by then the moose was gone and the man was back at work. I took a photo of the man in the tree.

What I was told: The next day I returned to the scene. The owner of the property was out front surveying some of the other work the tree trimmer had done. I told him that I had seen the ‘Treed’ man. The owner said the moose delayed the man’s descent for a while. The man kept throwing branches down towards the moose, hoping to scare it away. The moose just kept on eating. Eventually the man got low enough down the tree and the chain saw got noisy/menacing enough that the moose moved on.

From the perspective of a moose: As I was walking home, I spotted the moose in the aspen forest across the road from our place (about 150 meters (500 feet) from me.) There were at least four of them, possibly five.

I can just imagine the story that one of them told about the adventure the day before: “I tell you, it was raining branches yesterday! They just kept falling from the sky. I ate until I could hardly move!”

Photos of this group of Munching Moose. I’m making an assumption that the four moose we usually see (either in pairs or as a group of four) are always the same moose. One is a female with last springs calf. The other two are perhaps her calves from the previous year/years.

The newcomer to this group is a bull moose with antlers. It might be a younger male, since older males usually lose their antlers by now.

Bull moose on the left
Bull moose with antlers
A moose has poor eyesight but their hearing and sense of smell are excellent.
Moose are not normally aggressive unless they are harassed or it is mating season or mothers with young calves are protecting their young.

That’s it from the land of Munching Moose for this week!

 

More Munching Moose

Two representatives of the ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’ were here again last week. When I pointed out to them that I really didn’t want any more pruning done, this is what they said:

“Well, we chose your yard for a free complimentary call! I’ve got a young trainee with me. Junior hasn’t got the skills of our more experienced crew, so really needs the practice.

Junior can’t reach the taller branches, so I’ve assigned him to hedge duty. He should have your willow cut down to about 3 feet before the morning is over.

While he is doing that, I’m going to work on this aspen tree over here. What’s that you say? It was pruned just a few weeks ago by our other crew? Well, they missed a few branches. Look at how lopsided it is!

See how we eat everything and never leave a twig behind for you to clean up! Well, yes ma’am, we do leave these round brown lumps on the ground, but we don’t charge you a thing for our Munching Moose Tree and Hedge fertilization program.

Three Moose Morning

Three moose grazed their way through our yard a few mornings ago. Only one of them was within camera range. If this moose could talk, this might be the moose side of the conversation:

Good morning. Me and my two pals were sent here by the Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service. I finished pruning the hedge.  Now I’m going to do an Aspen Tree. What’s that? You don’t want the Aspen pruned? Well, usually the customer is right, but let me show you how I can fix the lopsided growth on this particular tree.

If I was to cut this branch off, right about here, this tree would look much better.

Now, another little snip right here…

There, I’m done this branch. Just thirty or forty more branches and I’ll be full… I mean done. Hope you weren’t counting on this tree to provide any shade this summer…

Moose to the Left, Moose to the Right!

We’ve lived at the Red House for almost 30 years. For the first 20 years, Moose were an urban legend as far as I was concerned. The neighbours all talked about them, but I never saw them. That changed in 2011 when a solitary moose made a dash across the back of our property. In 2012 I saw 3 moose behind the neighbours property and later, 5 moose grazing like cows in the field across the road. In 2013, 2014 and 2019 I saw between 1 and 3 moose behind our place – never stopping, just passing by.

This year we have seen moose four times in less than a week – and they are not in a hurry to be somewhere else.

Hello Grandma. I can see you in there, you know.

Last week a lone moose browsed it’s way past our house, stopping for a short time to look into the window. It was close enough that I had to back up a bit because my zoom lens wouldn’t focus on something that close. (The picture is a bit deceiving – the window is only 19 inches (48 cm) wide – probably not as wide as a moose is…)

Yesterday, I was bundled up in winter walking gear and was ready for a brisk outing when I realized that there was a moose between me and where I wanted to go. I watched it for a while as it chowed down on the willow, aspen and other assorted icy vegetation.

Same moose, head colour distorted by a bit of lens flare.

With my walk aborted, I suggested to The Car Guy that we take a trip to town for flu shots. That is when he pointed to the other side of our driveway – where two more moose were bedded down in the shelter of the woods.

Mother moose, calmly chewing her cud
Young moose, resting

Three moose, both sides of the driveway – with the possibility of a fourth moose (because we’d seen all four moose a few days earlier, though the mother and young one kept their distance from the other two moose.)

We decided a trip to town wasn’t going to happen. The truck was parked midway between us and the moose…

This all leads me to wonder – have the moose been using our woods as a winter retreat while we have been snowbirds in Arizona? Maybe this is their winter home and we are the interlopers!

(An aside story. I was curious as to whether a moose would go through a window. I could only find a couple references to such an event, one being in Maine where a moose went through the window of a vacant pizzeria. Local Police Chief Ryan Reardon said he had grown up in Maine (estimated moose population 76,000) and had been on the force for 26 years. That was the first time he had seen a moose go through a window.)

 

 

Red-tailed Hawk Dines in our Yard

A dark brown shape, a jumble of wings and talons. Flying feathers, uprooted autumn leaves, a flurry of snow. When the ‘dust’ cleared, I realized it was a rather large hawk, and it was expertly dissecting a newly caught ‘something’ for lunch.

In all the photos you can see some of ‘the something’ on the bird’s beak. When I visited the location after the hawk had left, I could see that the kill was a bird.

Many thanks to my go-to person for bird identification, Murray. My photos made identification difficult (shooting through a window on a dreary dull day), but he was reasonably confident this it was a dark morph Red-tailed Hawk. (Dark morph means that the pigment has an alteration that makes the feathers darker than the common colors usually seen. There are light morphs too. A study on morphs suggests that color polymorphism is due to different morphs being better adapted to different light conditions.)

The Feather Files
Name: Red-tailed Hawk – dark-morph
Species: Buteo jamaicensis
Native to and Migration: Resident or short-distance migrant. Most birds from Alaska, Canada, and the northern Great Plains fly south for a few months in winter, remaining in North America.
Date Seen: October 21, 2020
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes: Red-tailed Hawks are large birds with very broad, rounded wings and a short, wide tail. They can have a wingspan of 45-52 inches (114-133 cm). The female will be slightly larger in length and weight. Red-tailed Hawks have extremely variable plumage,

I used a Topaz Studio filter on this photo. While it accents the lighter colour feathers, it is not a good picture for bird identification purposes!