Newsletter 2 from Backyard Wildlife College

"More than just fluffy bunnies"

(Backyard Wildlife College, Allentown PA, est. 2017)

Newsletter 2 (July 2018)

Hello all, and welcome to newsletter 2!

The College has lots of exciting news about new arrivals spotted on campus!

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Ms. (or Mr.?) Fox was seen walking through the back alley about a week ago, and again a week later running across campus pursued by the Crow Airforce Acrobatic Team. The College has not received further news about Fox's intention to join the Division of Furry Creatures, but we are open for negotiation. We realize that increasing species diversity may bring tensions, in particular when carnivores join the faculty or will serve in functions already occupied by current members, but as our motto makes abundantly clear, we are not in the business of enhancing the "fluffy bunny view" of nature.

Speaking of fluffy bunnies, a Visiting Assistant Rabbit has been appointed! Following several early morning campus visits, an offer was made, and a great candidate has accepted the position. The College anxiously awaits news about post-doc baby bunnies.

Professor Bunny and the new VAR in the early morning hip hop session at BWC

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We now also had one daytime sighting of a raccoon, and an evening visit of a ground hog. Conference season is always busy and brings so many new and unexpected visitors to our beautiful backyard!

Ground hog day

The Feathered Creatures Division is expanding quickly, with northern cardinal visits, multiple robins (for readers in the Old World, American robins are about the size of a double decker bus in comparison with the wee ones depicted on English Christmas cards), finches, and the odd pigeon passing through in addition to the well-represented squad of sparrows. There was tangible excitement in the air when one Saturday evening a hummingbird made a fleeting inspection of the feeder.  Mrs. Ruby-throated Hummingbird has since decided to take up residence nearby, and visits Cafe Colibri multiple times per day. A big warm welcome from our entire community!  (Note to the ants: traces of sugar nectar found indoors are not an invitation. The nectar is for exclusive use in the Cafe for our feathered summer guests.) We have no photographic or video evidence yet, as Mrs. Hummingbird is a bit camera shy, and we try to respect the wishes of the members of our community. You are welcome to visit BWC and if you are lucky, you'll get to meet her!

The groundskeeping staff has returned from a brief study visit to the Inner City Campus in New York. The Squirrel Department in Central Park is thriving, and at least one mouse faculty member came up to say hello on the sidewalk on Columbus Av/West 73 St. Life is hard for Backyard Wildlife College members in such a busy city, but it is amazing how adaptable they are. We will explore more in future visits!

In other travel news, everything is gearing up for the semi-annual visit to Backgarden Wildlife College (Collegium "Vanachter in den Hof") in Belgium. This year there will also be several trips abroad for a comparison with European-style campus management. One visit is to Cologne for European Inner City management, another is across the Channel to Tregothnan gardens in Cornwall, and Cambridge, with a focus on the landscaped countryside. Above all, the staff is particularly excited about meeting the new resident red squirrel in the Backgarden, who hopefully will put on a magnificent display of the newly commissioned "Raiders of the Last Birdfeeder" ballet. Practice has been going really well, according to eye-witness accounts.

Finally, we say goodbye to our flora summer exchange guests from New Brunswick. Parsley and "Freeman" Oregano were here for a one month outdoor visit, and returned on Saturday, with the visiting houseplant, to their usual perch on the window sill in New Jersey. They enjoyed  making friends with some other herbs so much that they extended an invitation for a summer stay at the New Brunswick Indoor Plant Complex, which was readily accepted by Basil, Rosemary, Parsley and Cilantro. The carnivorous plants (CP) from BWC will be going on their own exchange soon, we hope, for some special rehab after a rough start to their outdoor season, due to a close shave with a rodent and some slugs.

Enjoy the backyard!

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Professor Bunny relaxing in the clover

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