Wild America – a Patriotic Bestiary

 

If a mortician is someone who does mortuary work, Ben Franklin was something of a bestician, for his observations on American wildlife began a patriotic bestiary which has never, as far as I know, been completed. Franklin observed that the rattlesnake (ahem) is not only vigilant, magnanimous, and courageous, with a rattle like the 13 colonies, but is also “beautiful in youth and her beauty increaseth with her age, ‘her tongue also is blue and forked as the lightning, and her abode is among impenetrable rocks'” (a blue tongue being of course indispensable to the American Spirit).

Franklin wasn’t as kind to our bald eagle, though, teasing it for being a “a Bird of bad moral Character [who] does not get his Living honestly.” The turkey, Franklin wrote his daughter, “is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

Right or wrong, Franklin did not get very far cataloging the patriotism of American wildlife, so now it’s up to us to continue. I consider it speciesist to suppose patriotism is only a human quality, and cannot be exhibited by our wildlife. For example, consider the star-nosed mole.

It is a hard worker, unafraid to get its hands dirty, toiling underground in the American heartland. As the world’s fastest forager, it lives life at an American pace, brisk and enterprising. Moreover, it has the world’s most patriotic nose, saluting both our flag and our national anthem with its tiny tentacles, which resemble spangling stars and bombs bursting in air. Those who cringe at the star-nosed mole, who’d call it an “ugly American,” are simply wrong: this mole is a beautiful American and deserves to be loved for all its fine American qualities.

I could go on to the gray squirrel, the mountain boomer, or perhaps the praying mantis (not the nefarious Chinese mantis, of course, but America’s own native mantis). But it’s less fun to do this alone.

Who would you add to the bestiary?

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  1. OldDan Rhody Member
    OldDan Rhody
    @OldDanRhody

    The noble American Badger, who preys on such ground animals as rodents and (ahem) rattlesnakes and who, despite its solitary nature, has been known to hunt in tandem with one or more coyotes to the benefit of both – “crossing the isle,” so to speak, in order to get something done.

    Image result for american badger

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Franklin wasn’t as kind to our bald eagle, though, teasing it for being a “a Bird of bad moral Character [who] does not get his Living honestly.”

    I’ve seen ’em eating roadkill by the highway. Benjy had a point.

    • #2
  3. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    I think poison would be a good addition to some in the bestiary.  I’ve seen what moles do to fairly nice lawns.

    • #3
  4. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    American Robin :)  Keeping company with my yard fairy.

    • #4
  5. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    • #5
  6. OldDan Rhody Member
    OldDan Rhody
    @OldDanRhody

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    I think poison would be a good addition to some in the bestiary. I’ve seen what moles do to fairly nice lawns.

    (Ahem): The American Badger, who includes moles in its diet.

    The American badger… preys predominantly on pocket gophers ,ground squirrels, moles, marmots, prairie dogs, pika, woodrats, kangaroo rats, deer mice, and voles

    • #6
  7. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    So interesting that you landed on Jim McCormac’s blog for that praying mantis –   Ohio Birds and Biodiversity.  He’s a big hit here in Ohio.

    • #7
  8. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Our native blue jay is a patriotic bird. Raucous and bold, curious and intelligent, it is also brave and civic-minded, sounding the alarm when predatory birds approach, daring to chase off raptors much larger than itself. A bit of a slow flyer, it doesn’t let being a little slow stand in its way. It is vigorous in the defense of its home turf, well understanding the value of a place to call one’s own. The blue jay is thrifty, known to store food as squirrels do, and it has a wholesome home life, mother and father building their nest together and together caring for their young. It is constant in its true-blue plumage, neither changing its feathers with the seasons or with sex: both male and female blue jays enjoy the same elegant fluffy blue coat year round. Truly a symbol of equality and defense of the American home.

    • #8
  9. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    In honor of our Mexican immigrants, what about the nine-banded armadillo?

    Skunkscotton ratsburrowing owlspine snakes, and rattlesnakes can be found living in abandoned armadillo burrows.[6]Occasionally, the armadillo may threaten the endangered gopher tortoise by aggressively displacing them from their burrows and claiming the burrows for themselves.[13] Studies have shown the fan-tailed warbler habitually follows armadillos to feed on insects and other invertebrates displaced by them.[22]

    They are typically hunted for their meat, which is said to taste like pork, but are more frequently killed as a result of their tendency to steal the eggs of poultry and game birds. This has caused certain populations of the nine-banded armadillo to become threatened, although the species as a whole is under no immediate threat.[6] They are also valuable for use in medical research, as they are among the few mammals other than humans susceptible to leprosy.[17] In Texas, nine-banded armadillos are raised to participate in armadillo racing, a small-scale, but well-established sport in which the animals scurry down a 40-foot track.[6]

    How much more American can you get?

    • #9
  10. GLDIII Reagan
    GLDIII
    @GLDIII

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:<Snip>

    For example, consider the star-nosed mole. It is a hard worker, unafraid to get its hands dirty, toiling underground in the American heartland. As the world’s fastest forager, it lives life at an American pace, brisk and enterprising. It moreover has the world’s most patriotic nose, saluting both our flag and our national anthem with its tiny tentacles, which resemble spangling stars and bombs bursting in air. Those who cringe at the star-nosed mole, who’d call it an “ugly American”, are simply wrong: this mole is a beautiful

    I think Mr Rattler needs to lock the liquor cabinet and hide the boxes of refrigerator wine before he heads to the office in the morning. This paragraph on the star nose mole is the written version of the same visual phenomena men have been known to exhibit as a night at the bar wears on, and they notice that the remaining women become better looking and are acceptable for home visitation rituals.

     

    • #10
  11. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    We had a very patriotic ruby-throated hummingbird who hovered around the Stars and Stripes all day this summer.

    • #11
  12. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    GLDIII (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:<Snip>

    For example, consider the star-nosed mole. It is a hard worker, unafraid to get its hands dirty, toiling underground in the American heartland. As the world’s fastest forager, it lives life at an American pace, brisk and enterprising. It moreover has the world’s most patriotic nose, saluting both our flag and our national anthem with its tiny tentacles, which resemble spangling stars and bombs bursting in air. Those who cringe at the star-nosed mole, who’d call it an “ugly American”, are simply wrong: this mole is a beautiful

    I think Mr Rattler needs to lock the liquor cabinet and hide the boxes of refrigerator wine before he heads to the office in the morning. This paragraph on the star nose mole is the written version of the same visual phenomena men have been known to exhibit as a night at the bar wears on, and they notice that the remaining women become better looking and are acceptable for home visitation rituals.

    Just wait until @juliesnapp weights in with the opossums!

    • #12
  13. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    That model American, the porcupine.

    You leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.

    • #13
  14. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Otherkin

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y1GbBhu9hA

    TRIGGER WARNING: POTTY MOUTH

     

     

    • #14
  15. kelsurprise Member
    kelsurprise
    @kelsurprise

    I would like to nominate my cat, Liza, as the most patriotic beastie.

    Because while everyone else is gallivanting around having BBQs or boat rides or picnics or shopping on President’s Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day or Fourth of July, Liza observes all patriotic-themed holidays with quiet and contemplative reverence.  Indeed, she hardly moves, so deep in thought is she, on the sacrifices made by others so that she can roam free, from bed, to box, to feeding station and back to bed again.

    Granted, she gives many other holidays much the same level of respect.  Also, Sundays.  And sure, most weekdays, but still, I sense a little somethin’ extra stirring in her narcoleptic soul on those patriotic holidays.

    I’m gonna make her some special hats to celebrate with.  I’m sure she’ll love that.

    • #15
  16. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Misthiocracy (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Franklin wasn’t as kind to our bald eagle, though, teasing it for being a “a Bird of bad moral Character [who] does not get his Living honestly.”

    I’ve seen ’em eating roadkill by the highway. Benjy had a point.

    Not only that, but they’ll chase ospreys who are carrying fish (which they caught) and harass them until they drop their catch. Thugs and robbers.

    • #16
  17. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    kelsurprise (View Comment):
    I’m gonna make her some special hats to celebrate with. I’m sure she’ll love that.

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

    • #17
  18. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Misthiocracy (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Franklin wasn’t as kind to our bald eagle, though, teasing it for being a “a Bird of bad moral Character [who] does not get his Living honestly.”

    I’ve seen ’em eating roadkill by the highway. Benjy had a point.

    That’s a valuable service. No one else seems inclined to dispose of it.

    • #18
  19. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Matt Balzer (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Franklin wasn’t as kind to our bald eagle, though, teasing it for being a “a Bird of bad moral Character [who] does not get his Living honestly.”

    I’ve seen ’em eating roadkill by the highway. Benjy had a point.

    That’s a valuable service. No one else seems inclined to dispose of it.

    Vultures will!

    • #19
  20. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    I’m going to nominate the red-tailed hawk. They can be found throughout the country, and their adaptability and intelligence means that they are comfortable in all areas, wilderness, rural, suburban and urban. They are highly individual – although they are generally brown above and lighter below, no two redtails are exactly alike, unlike, say, Harris hawks, which we falconers refer to as “clone hawks”. They are opportunistic: they aren’t too proud to eat lowly meadow voles when nothing else presents itself, but are capable of much more – a pair in NYC’s Central Park figured out how to take pigeons on the wing, and as falconry birds they can handle jackrabbits, pheasants, and much more.  They are even well represented in Hollywood – when you hear a bird scream in the wild, when Hollywood wishes to invoke a feeling of wilderness, the sound used is the scream of a redtail, though most people probably think it is an eagle.

    I will add that my 31-year-old redtail is the handsomest raptor that has ever graced a falconer’s fist. I might be biased….

     

     

    • #20
  21. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    I will add that my 31-year-old redtail is the handsomest raptor that has ever graced a falconer’s fist. I might be biased

    pics, please?

    • #21
  22. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    I will also add that Europe doesn’t have anything like our redtail, poor fellows…

    • #22
  23. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    I’d be happy to, if I knew how. Is there a how-to here?

    TG (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    I will add that my 31-year-old redtail is the handsomest raptor that has ever graced a falconer’s fist. I might be biased

    pics, please?

     

    • #23
  24. kelsurprise Member
    kelsurprise
    @kelsurprise

    TG (View Comment):

    kelsurprise (View Comment):
    I’m gonna make her some special hats to celebrate with. I’m sure she’ll love that.

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

    I’ll get started on a cat-sized version of this little number for Veteran’s Day:

    • #24
  25. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    I’d be happy to, if I knew how. Is there a how-to here?

    TG (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    I will add that my 31-year-old redtail is the handsomest raptor that has ever graced a falconer’s fist. I might be biased

    pics, please?

    Do you already have such pictures on your computer, or on your phone?  If you don’t, that’s the first step.

    when photos are on computer, I use the “Add Media” button that appears when I’m writing a comment, and “download file” (it takes a few steps)

    • #25
  26. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    I’d be happy to, if I knew how. Is there a how-to here?

    1. Click the blue “Add Media” button above the upper left corner of the comment box.
    2. Under “Insert Media”, click “upload files”.
    3. Select a file from your computer to upload.
    4. Once it has uploaded, it will be in your “Media Library”. Click on so it is check marked, then
    5. Go all the way down to the lower right corner and click the blue button labeled “Insert into post”.
    • #26
  27. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Franklin wasn’t as kind to our bald eagle, though, teasing it for being a “a Bird of bad moral Character [who] does not get his Living honestly.”

    I’ve seen ’em eating roadkill by the highway. Benjy had a point.

    Not only that, but they’ll chase ospreys who are carrying fish (which they caught) and harass them until they drop their catch. Thugs and robbers.

    I’ve seen eagles do that on the Umpqua River in Southern Oregon.

    • #27
  28. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    I’d be happy to, if I knew how. Is there a how-to here?

    1. Click the blue “Add Media” button above the upper left corner of the comment box.
    2. Under “Insert Media”, click “upload files”.
    3. Select a file from your computer to upload.
    4. Once it has uploaded, it will be in your “Media Library”. Click on so it is check marked, then
    5. Go all the way down to the lower right corner and click the blue button labeled “Insert into post”.

    Thanks! I went to our main computer and tried to send a photo of Dakota to our e-mail account, which would then show up here on my tablet, which is where I’m signed into Ricochet. It hasn’t shown up yet, but I’ll keep trying. In the meantime, what do you think of my nomination? Redtails are resourceful, adaptable, individual, opportunistic, found across the country, and even have some Hollywood glamour…

    • #28
  29. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    Redtails are resourceful, adaptable, individual, opportunistic, found across the country, and even have some Hollywood glamour…

    I think they are a fine animal for the bestiary!

    • #29
  30. J.D. Snapp Coolidge
    J.D. Snapp
    @JulieSnapp

    OldDan Rhody (View Comment):
    The noble American Badger, who preys on such ground animals as rodents and (ahem) rattlesnakes and who, despite its solitary nature, has been known to hunt in tandem with one or more coyotes to the benefit of both – “crossing the isle,” so to speak, in order to get something done.

    Image result for american badger

    I feel like he might not give a heck.

    • #30

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