Migratory Patterns of the Lesser Crested North American TootsiePop

Mini Tootsie Pops, originally uploaded by stinky_harriet.

These are Tootsie Pops.

A tasty, convenient treat. Full of childhood memories (remember Mr. Owl?) and dye enough to turn your tongue all sort of Three Mile Island colors.

Scientists have long sought to fully understand the various behaviors of the TootisePop. An elusive creature in the wild, naturalists have seldom had any genuine opportunities to study these timid beauties beyond the highly artificial setting of a bowl of Halloween candy.

But I can help.

Using my trusty Olympus Point and Shoot (or really, point and wait for the shutter to catch up, then shoot) I have managed to capture – in glorious, semi-focused, digital images – some rare activity.

In the wild, the TootsiePop is a social creature, living in hierarchical "bag-pods."

This specimen had been safely nestled in its bag-pod, which was temporarily camped in the bedroom (there does not seem to be any keenly ecological reason for this, it’s almost as if someone simply “dropped” the bag of TootsiePops lazily on the first horizontal surface she encountered after entering the house from the garage.) Then one morning I noticed it, isolated, in the middle of the carpet. In the absence of a telephoto lens, I snapped this distant shot (above) from the camouflage of the unmade bed. I succeeded in taking this photo without startling the creature. Then, emboldened by my success, I undertook a slow, deliberate, approach – all the while doing my best to mimic its posture by scooching in a side-lying position – so I could attempt to relocated it to a safer, less-exposed, habitat.

This was where I managed to secure the creature:

Note the colorful plumage.

On casual glance, it may seem to have been thrown carelessly onto a desk, but the picture (due to the limitations of the camera of course) fails to communicate the subtle natural wood-grains of the laminate surface and the other candy wrapper debris that was successful in approximating a naturalized habitat which allowed the wild creature to settle into a comfortable sleep.

Average ground speed of the Lesser Crested North American Tootsie Pop is approximately 4 feet per day.

So imagine my shock to later find the creature here. My suspicion is that the creature sought relief from the heat of the desk lamp by leaning itself against the cool porcelain. But once again, concerned over its exposure and limited mobility, I crept up on the TootsiePop  and transferred it to a safe location.

In the wild, the North American Tootsie Pop prepares its young for adulthood by dropping them, headfirst, into kindergarten playgrounds.

Thinking that perhaps the TootsiePop needed a greater sense of shelter and protection, I shoved – I mean, gently nestled – it into the keyboard tray of my desk.  But, momentarily distracted by either the phone, the doorbell, or a Hershey’s commercial, I neglected to actually shut the drawer.

Mating behaviors of the TootisePop remain a mystery as the shy creatures become nearly inanimate when approached by naturalists.

So I must clearly assume responsibility for the flight of the TootsiePop that by this time I can only assume was frantic to try and return to its bag-pod. Although if previous studies of the TootsiePop are any indication, once the TootsiePop has travelled too far from its herd-mates, has been coated in dust and dirt and traipsed itself across a bathroom floor, species rejection is common and it would be rare to find that a TootsiePop would be accepted back into the relative social safety of its bag-pod.

But it was about this time that I finally gleaned a clue, my unceasing awe of the mystery that is non-human behavior expanding with each second I was lucky enough to be present for such a rare natural sighting.

Predators are a sadly common reality for the Lesser Crested TootsiePop.

This photo shows a predator species, House-Cattus-Mondo-Buttockus, stalking the TootsiePop, who had not adequately hidden itself behind the router box. The gentle TootsiePop, despite its place at the bottom of the food-chain, has never truly developed a strong flight response. It is only its rampant breeding process that keeps it from extinction despite its “Come and Eat Me” behaviors.

So this amazing photo, snapped hurriedly by yours truly, begins to shed some light on the primitive reflexes that drive the behavior of both species. It’s possible that some sort of symbiotic relationship has developed between these two, or its possible that the hunting behaviors of the common household Mondo-Buttockus  has evolved due to a refining of its appetites beyond expensive kibble and into the realm of artificially sweetened, wax-paper-wrapped confections. It’s difficult to draw conclusions with only the one photo to work from but it seems safe to assume that the TootsiePop has been aided in its relocation activities by one large domestic feline.

But I’ll keep up the quest for enlightenment. After all, a better understanding of the natural behaviors of these creatures who share my space on the planet can only further my quest for Martha Points. If I know what to do to keep the damned cat away from the candy facilitate a successful co-existence of species, my chances of household harmony and things staying where I want them to stay may be an attainable goal.

Till next time, go have a TootsiePop on me!

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