Two Penn State Wildlife Tales

I did a pretty cool thing on this day: I became a conference photographer! Through some odd turns of events, I spent the day at the Nittany Lion Inn, photographing the Hendrick Best Practices for Adult Learners Conference.

I promise to tell you all about that later, because I'm quite busy - I'm still processing both the experience and the images. :-) But first, let me tell you two pretty cool Penn State wildlife tales.

Before my conference began, and during a few breaks in the day, I stepped outdoors to catch some rays of sunshine for myself, and some pictures of the beautiful flowers that are blooming all around the Inn. During two of those breaks, I had some fun wildlife experiences, right on campus.

First one: there are some glorious pink and yellow tulips around the sundial area out in front of the Inn. The morning sun was shining on them and lighting the flowers up like Chinese lanterns.

Of course you know me: I was snap-snap-snapping away. And then I suddenly saw a sweet little face peeking out from between some of the blooms: chipmunk! "So, do you come here often?" it seemed to ask. (What a great place to live!)

Second one: there was a break between conference sessions and I saw the afternoon light on a pink redbud tree in the courtyard near Whiskers, the bar at the Nittany Lion Inn. Ever a fan of redbuds, out I went with my camera, and I took a picture or two before I noticed some shadows moving beneath a table.

The shadows turned out to be a mama mallard and five tiny floofy-butt offspring. I had noticed little containers of grain set out around the courtyard and had wondered what they were for. Well, here was my answer: for the birds!

I was quite taken aback because that courtyard is open to the sky, but it is surrounded by the walls of the Inn. The mama could have gotten in by flying in, but her flightless offspring clearly can't leave that area with her (without human help, anyway) until they earn their wings.

I snapped a few quick pictures (there's one in the extras), trying to be unobtrusive, so as not to disturb the lovely family, and went back inside. I talked to the two guys working at Whiskers: "So, looks like you've got a mallard family living in the courtyard," I said. (Queen of the obvious, that's me!)

And they responded that this is the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW that this same bird has come into the courtyard to nest. She raises her babies and then they leave. In the courtyard they are safe from predators, except for any (such as hawks) that may attack from the sky. Smart mama, to pick such a safe place to raise her young!

One of the things I love about our beautiful campus is that it still has a touch of the wild. Here's a song for that: the Talking Heads, with Wild, Wild Life.

Sign in or get an account to comment.