New Noises, Poisoned Dogs

black vultureBecoming accustomed to different noises is part of the process of settling into a new area. I am yet to see most of the birds associated with the different calls I hear daily. The other day I was walking on our property and listening to different bird calls. After hearing several I am familiar with I heard a new unusual sound. I followed the chattering up a tree and spotted a family of Tayras. Now, every time I pass this spot I look up and sure enough the Tayras are climbing up the tree until we pass and then they begin their descent to the ground. The sound of the vulture’s wings slicing through the wind is surprising. The first few times I heard it I couldn’t identify what was making the loud swishing sound. Now I am able to tell if a Vulture or a Montezuma Oropendola is flying above.

We live in a rural area of Costa Rica which is more tranquil than the city areas, but comes with its share of noises. We are removed enough from the public road that we don’t hear every car, truck and bus that goes by. What we do hear daily are the occasional loud sounds of non-muffled ATVs. Vehicles without mufflers are illegal here, but like most other laws are not enforced in rural areas. While it’s over an hour to drive to the airport, we are still in a close enough range to see and hear planes flying overhead. Both of these noises are something I have learned to filter out and instead seek silence or bird calls.

Recently a new noise started at our closest neighbor’s house, hysterical barking dogs. This went on for several days before I walked up the street to see what was happening. The dogs were barking at the neighbor’s horse. The poor animal was backed up against the fence while the dogs barked at and tried to nip the horse. This went on for days until they moved the horse to a different location and the barking wasn’t so obnoxious to us.

I suppose teasing the horse got boring for the dogs so they moved on to chickens. They chased several into and out of our yard. It was around this time that I met and named the biggest neighbor dog, George. I was at the street with Roxy one evening and George and his pals came out to greet us. I pet George for the first time to find that he was alarmingly thin. One of his buddies was pregnant and the other just a normal looking dog. I could tell George wanted and needed attention, food and exercise. Instead the pack took manners into their own hands and began to kill the chickens.

Our workers were the ones to report the dead chickens on the road and just a few days after that, dead dogs. Four dead dogs on the side of the road, they were poisoned. George and his pals were dead. They were apparently poisoned for killing the chickens. This is very dangerous for Roxy. She will eat pretty much anything that is given to her. Now that she is fed regularly she doesn’t need to rummage through the neighbor’s garbage where there is a good chance of eating something that was baited for rats. I asked around after this happened and it seems it is common to poison animals here, especially stray dogs. Some cities use it as a way to control the populations of street dogs.

The day the dogs were poisoned it was eerily quiet, only bird calls, the occasional air plane or loud ATV. While I tremendously love dogs, I have to admit it’s a relief not to have the added daily noise of the pack hysterically barking and taunting the horse and chickens. RIP George and pals.

The first picture is of a Black Vulture, the second of an orchid plant given to me by one of the workers and the last is of cicada shells.