Canada geese and rabbits are not the only residents on our 228-acre campus. Some of you may know that we have a monogamous pair of red-tail hawks that have been on the campus for many years, keeping our rabbit and vole population to a minimum. Lately, there has been a great deal of vocalization occurring between these birds of prey. A two to three second, rasping scream, the red-tailed hawks frequently vocalize while soaring and hunting. However, they also will let out load screams of annoyance or anger in response to rival hawks or other predators. Sighted near the Administration building, much of the vocalization may be in response to a visiting female, red-shoulder hawk.
Teeming with wildlife, the campus has hosted many species of animals for years and with the continuing influx of development in the surrounding areas, it is likely we will catch sight of animals we had no idea were in our midst. That leads to Mr. Wiley E. Coyote. Coyotes typically live singly, in male-female pairs, and sometimes in larger family groupings. Shy, introverted animals, this lone coyote has been a regular visitor in the last couple of weeks near the upper retention basin. Just as hawks are opportunistic feeders, so too are coyotes. It is not unusual to see them during the day hunting the fields for rabbits, mice, and voles, keeping these populations in check. The lake is prime picking for the coyote and unsuspecting geese and their eggs can be targets as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) both indicate there is nothing to fear from the coyote and these canines are not a risk to human safety. Coyotes are ultimately a valuable addition to the landscape.
The circle of life on the campus of SCC would not be complete without the occasional herd of white-tailed deer that use it as a corridor between fragmented wild areas. Another species that has made our area home, it is of great delight to catch a glimpse of this native ungulate. Just in the last few weeks, a young buck or two and a collection of does have been traveling across Loop Road. An occasional early pre-dawn morning will find one of these beautiful animals standing near Campus Facilities, close enough to touch. A moment of silence as we contemplate each other, and then, bounding away with a quickness, a swish of white tail into thin air.
A word of warning to those awestruck by our wildlife populations, however. These are wild animals, and as such, should never be approached. A telephoto lens makes a wonderful addition to the camera collection, as well as a great gift.