While the wolves sleep, the birds reap.
Animal keepers enter the Red Wolf Enclosure daily to both clean up and to drop off fresh meat in the form of meatballs. The meat is placed in various locations around the enclosure. Much of it’s picked up and wolfed down before the keepers leave the enclosure, but there’s often small tidbits left behind. I’ve often seen cardinals drop in to sample the raw meat. And Carolina Wrens sometimes fly in to pick up any leftovers.
There’s also a hopper inside the enclosure which is filled with dry food, a high protein Wolf Chow. That’s right, Wolf Chow (there seems to be a chow for every kind of captive animal from Monkey Chow to Bear Chow). The hopper is visible from the overlook, about twenty feet to the right of the dirt mound which contains the two man-made dens in the enclosure.
To the wild birds here at the Museum this hopper is nothing more than a bird feeder, with one caveat, keep a lookout for the wolves. It’s a risky business taking food from this feeder.
Not only do the birds have to keep an eye out for a Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s Hawk, but our female wolf (1287) is adept at catching whatever happens into the enclosure. I’ve seen her prancing around with a groundhog dangling from her jaws and personally witnessed her catch a gray squirrel, and, get this, a cardinal. Birds beware!
But when the wolves lie down, the birds chow down.
So, the next time you’re in Explore the Wild at the Red Wolf Overlook, and the wolves are stackin’ Zs at the top of the enclosure, take a moment to see how may birds you can count snatching food from those catnaping canids.