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Sunday, December 22, 2013

What pulls Santa's sleigh?


reindeer or caribou ??
As most of you know, reindeer and caribou are the very same animal, with the same scientific name. As to what pulled Santa’s sleigh, remember that the Christmas tradition developed mainly in Europe.

The deerlike animals live north of the tree-line in sub-arctic regions. The “reindeer” in northern Europe and Greenland are slightly smaller than the animals called “caribou” in North America, probably having developed that way over thousands of years when different populations of the same species were separated over long periods of time. During that time they had different diets.

Both, of course, are fast runners and are able to live largely on lichens during the arctic winters. None, as far as science has observed, have a red nose; except in peoples' imagination.

 

Most of us live in a “suburbia” of some sort, so I’ll relay a study published in  the Journal of Ornithology that sheds new light on a situation relevant to suburbia and birdwatching.

The study focused on 3 suburban sites, all near a major U.S. city.  It found that predation accounted for 79% of bird deaths. Not disease, not starvation, not bad weather---but an otherwise-healthy songbird being fatally attacked. 47 percent of predation events was by domestic cats.

Whatever your viewpoint on this issue, the need to reach some sort of agreement is clear. Letting domestic cats roam freely outdoors is no good for any creature. Cats that roam freely live only half as long as indoor cats, and tend to bring all kinds of germs and dirt into the house. Cats rarely kill birds because they’re hungry; it’s simply in their nature as hunters.

So if you have a housecat, like me, be kind and keep it safe and indoors.

 

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