Sleeping Wolves

While the wolves sleep, the birds reap.

Two sleeping red wolves (female, top).
Seen here from the enclosure’s overlook, this dry-food hopper is mounted on the back side of a pine tree.

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.

Our female red wolf mouths a groundhog which mistook the wolf enclosure as a safe place to browse.

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!

I was witness to the capture of this gray squirrel that our female proudly displays at the top of the enclosure.

But when the wolves lie down, the birds chow down.

While the wolves snooze, a bluejay absconds with a morsel of food.

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.

2 responses to Sleeping Wolves

  1. Katy says:

    Awesome pictures!!! Any chance you know the dates of when the female got the critters in her exhibit? If so I can make sure it gets into her health record.

    • Greg Dodge says:

      The groundhog was 6/18/12 and the squirrel was 12/31/11 but I’m not sure of the exact date for the cardinal. It was, however, probably during the winter since it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk (they’re not here in the summer) that caused the incident by flying into the enclosure. The hawk panicked the songbirds that were peacefully feeding and the wolf took advantage of their otherwise distracted state by grabbing the cardinal. I was not quick enough with the camera that day to get a picture. I saw her eat the cardinal but she buried the others. Whether she buried them for later consumption, I can’t say.

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