Sun 25 Jul 2010
A mother raccoon guards her two kits while they eat peanuts (cacahuates) off my deck.
My former wife Ana Carolina in Guatemala refers to raccoons as “mapaches,” which is the name the Spanish colonists gave them.
The word was taken from the Nahuati word “mapachitli,” meaning “one who takes everything in its hands.” Nahua was the language of the ancient Aztecs and is still spoken in Central Mexico.
The mother raccoon (right rear) comes to my kitchen door each evening and stands on her hind legs so I will see her and put out food. But when I open the door to do so, she quickly backs away and begins a low growl. Her message is obvious: “Make sure you don’t get too close to my kits!”
The English word “raccoon” comes from the Virginia Algonquian word “aroughcun,” which is also spelled “arathkone.” The language, a subgroup of the Algonquian language, died out in the 1790s.
The kits are are far less skittish around me than their mother is unless I make a quick movement.
Historical curiosity: The first written description of raccoons was made by Christopher Columbus, who in 1492 discovered them on his expedition to the New World.
Many fledglings after first leaving the nest want to be fed as if they were still in it. On the railing of my deck, this young crow (“cuervo” en español) caws incessantly and holds its mouth open in hopes the parent will feed it birdseed — even though the youngster is standing in birdseed.
Crows are smaller than ravens although at a distance it’s hard to gauge their sizes. The most obvious difference is in their tails when the birds are in flight. The tail feathers of a raven form a wedge shape while the tail feathers of a crow are almost straight across.
Young bucks sparring next to my cabin. These young blacktails are not trying to hurt each other but to establish dominance. Does prefer to mate with the stronger buck. From an evolutionary standpoint, this passes along the genes of the hardier deer (“venado” en español), which helps ensure the survival of the species.
Así que ahora ustedes tiene la lección de esta semana sobre los mapaches, cuervos, venados y la lengua española. Estudien mucho y no gasten dinero en Arizona.