creature feature

Creature Feature: Cooper’s Hawk by Michael Graves

So… you’re walking down the street with your dog or stroller when a dark blur streaks by and a dozen doves explode out of a tree, with the jays who witnessed the event screaming JAY JAY JAY! What just happened? Chances are good that a Cooper’s Hawk is to blame and that he or she may now be enjoying a meal.

“Coops” are becoming increasingly at home within the Woodland Heights, with these woodland hawks moving into neighborhoods to offset impacts of habitat loss. Coops lurk from hidden perches in trees, swooping out to snatch birds, squirrels, rats, bats, reptiles and insects. All but the tiniest pets are safe, with Cooper’s Hawks weighing in at less than a pound and unlikely to tackle anything bigger than themselves.

Though we may feel bad for those who are eaten, the balance of nature requires these ongoing interactions of prey and predator, as is beautifully illustrated in the new movie The Biggest Little Farm. And the risks work both ways, with the Coops’ method of hunting resulting in injuries that give them an average lifespan of just one year – not good for a species that doesn’t breed until its second year.

As a result, most of the Coops you’ll see are young birds, which have a brown back and wings, and brown streaks running down the white breast and belly. Adults have a slate gray back and wings, with orangey barring across the breast and belly. Coops of all ages have a very long tail with broad brown and gray bands. Photos taken in Woodland Heights and White Oak Park display the progression from nestling, to juvenile, to adult.

Want to learn more about the birds of the ‘hood? Check out the Bayou City Birding resources of the White Oak Bayou Association at WhiteOakBayou.org/resources-and-zines and take part in the monthly bird survey at Woodland Park.

- Wendy Wright

Creature Feature: NikKi Prochaska! by Michael Graves

Nikki Prochaska #3.jpg

This month I'm exercising canine editorial privilege to acclaim Ms Niki Prochaska as the Creature Feature! Niki lives at 204 Byrne with Mike & Kamile Prochaska and Family. She just this past weekend reached her 14th birthday, which is a major milestone for a Labrador Retriever. In years past, she'd say hello to Shadow and I. Julio and I still see her regularly when we get down to Byrne Street. She's always ready to greet us and give us a wag.

According to Kamile, "Niki is a wonderful dog! Although she is 14 and weighs 80lbs. Her preference is to be a lap dog. She follows us around the house and lays her body as close to us as possible at all times, and if we do not pay attention to her, she commands attention by barking at us until we do. No one can be hugged in our house without her included. Her body may be slow, but she has the mind of a 2 year old puppy! She loves to play, bark at birds and garbage trucks, and chase cats!"

Niki is an inspiration. I hope I do as well at that age. - Gwen Espinosa-Graves

Your Canine Contributing Editor

Your Canine Contributing Editor

We call this the “Creature Feature” highlighting the fact that we’d welcome pics that are not pets. Birders! I’m talking to you! See an especially great turtle in the park, grab a pic with your phone. Send it along to communications@woodland-heights.org.

Pseudo Creature Feature: Dinosaur Spotting in WH by Michael Graves

T-Rex and friends on a field of volcanic ash.

There are folks here in Woodland Heights who, for whatever reason, just don’t live their lives online. the internet is simply not an important thing in their lives. Nonetheless, they are important to us as neighbors. That’s why we continue to print newsletters a few times a year, when it’s important to get critical information widely distributed. It’s also why we use things like door hangers, just recently distributed, to promote the Constable Patrol Program. A hat tip to the Home Tour committee for pointing out that strategy.

The door hangers present a certain problem as well. When we take delivery they have been die cut to hang on the door, but there’s a paper circle that has to be popped out of every one. Since we print 2000 copies that’s 2000 little paper circles that might very possibly litter up the neighborhood.

However, block captain coordinator Andrea Gorney doesn’t let that happen. She broke down the box, counting out how many are needed for each block. In the process she popped out all those dastardly circles! They would not have a chance to litter the ‘hood.

Further, her kids took to playing with them. According to Andrea, “At the time they claimed it was make believe volcanic ash. I’ve since recycled said “ash”. It’s a valid concern - much better my living room than our neighborhood streets.”

Creature Feature #3: Milo by Michael Graves

Milo came to join our family in February 2017. Someone in the neighborhood found him as a puppy wondering along the bayou and posted a lost dog alert. We responded that he wasn’t ours but we’d happy to give me a home! We spent a few weeks searching for his owners. Leads came in from other neighbors, we had him checked for a chip and called local vets but we came up empty.

We were more than happy to welcome him into our family though! Now he happily keeps watch on our corner. Every morning and afternoon Milo waits for Travis kids to say hello. If he’s lucky, a game of chase happens through the fence or someone reaches through to throw his tennis ball. He also loves playdates with his many four-legged friends in the neighborhood!

Christina DeHaven

Milo one of several dogs that comprise the NoMo Canine Mafia, which also includes Bear, Bo, Bruno, Duke, Lucy, Luna and Sam. We see at least some of them every day. - Editor

Creature Feature #2: Amelia Stowers' Menagerie by Michael Graves

The Stowers family lives on Highland Street. Their daughter, Amelia, loves animals and has seven pets, including her new basset hound puppy, “Spots” and her bearded dragon, “Sunset”. “Spots has long ears that drag the ground”, Amelia explained. And her father Greg said, “And Sunset will ride on Amelia’s shoulder and not jump off.” These are some cool pets!

Amelia Stowers, Spots & Sunset.

A holiday Brontosaurus.

This editor, while out walking our dogs, recently observed the unveiling of their latest addition, a very bright Brontosaurus, just for the holidays.