Information about our wild animal neighbors
The wild animal population of Rock Creek Park has increased in recent years. They have become adapted to living among humans and often use our garbage and gardens for their benefit. Deer, red and gray foxes, raccoons are often seen and the presence of coyotes has been documented. Here are pictures and links to the common ones.
Lorraine Swerdloff took this picture on this fawn on Trumbull Terrace.
White tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are ubiquitous in Crestwood, enjoying the salad bar of our gardens. They are not very fearful of humans. Cute as they are, their population in Rock Creek Park has increased steadily to the point they disrupt renewal of the forest by eating young plants. They, and white-footed mice, host the ticks that transmit Lyme disease, which has infected many dogs in the neighborhood. The National Park Service is making plans to control their population.
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes), a member of the Canidae (dog) family, inhabits most of North America and Eurasia. It is rusty red, with a white underbelly, black ear tips and legs, and a bushy tail with a distinctive white tip, is 18 to 30 inches long and weighs 6 to 15 pounds. Many of us have heard their high-pitched bark, sometimes sounding like a baby in distress. They are intelligent, speedy and consume a mixed diet of fruits, berries, grasses, insects, and small animals such as birds, mice and rabbits. They are not dangerous to humans or our pets. You can obtain more information from Wikipedia and National Geographic.
Also a member of the Canidae, the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) also has some red coloring, but is only a distant relative of the red fox. About the same size, it is slower but able to climb trees. Its diet is similar but it is more shy and active primarily at night. Further information is available at Wikipedia and a Texas mammals website.
More dog-like in appearance, the coyote (Canis latrans) is larger, 20 to 50 pounds, and can hunt larger game, particularly in packs. They are normally fearful of humans, but can become acclimated to us, which increases the chances of attacks on pets and humans. It is much more common to hear them than see them. If sighted, one should make noise to maintain their fear of humans. You can find more informationowl-fullres.wmv on Wikipedia, National Geographic, and the Rock Creek Park website.
It is common to hear the gentle hoot of owls. A Crestwood neighbor made a video of one in his yard, which you can download here.
There have been several sightings of nighthawks in Crestwood. They are large, nocturnal, insect eaters. They are easily recognized by the white stripes on the underside of their wings.
Kristina Gill took this picture of a wild turkey on Randolph Street the morning of April 18, 2012!
Debra McDonald took this picture of two cute fox kits on Blagden Avenue on April 25, 2012.
November 21, 2017 - Many people have spotted the albino squirrel living off of 17th St between Taylor and Varnum over the past 3 weeks. It's not the best photo, but still pretty neat as this is rare.
As you can see from the pink eyes, he is a true albino, not a recessive white squirrel. Note information from below from Wikipedia
Albino and white squirrels
Although these squirrels are commonly referred to as "albinos", most of them are likely non-albino squirrels that exhibit a rare white fur coloration known as leucism that is as a result of a recessive gene found within certain Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) populations, and so technically they ought to be referred to as white squirrels, instead of albino.
A white squirrel. Note the non-pink eyes.