Animals

Backyard Visitors

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I’ve had some interesting visitors lately.

A few weeks ago, a mourning dove spent the day pecking around in my backyard. I hoped it would return and bring some friends but I haven’t seen it since.

A Pileated Woodpecker (above) came to visit my suet feeder but refused to pose against a nice background for me. I haven’t seen it since but there are a lot of them in the neighborhood, so I’m bound to get a good photo of one eventually.

About two weeks ago, a small bunch (six or seven) Pine Siskins started hanging out at my feeders.

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Pine Siskins are cute little birds but they’re trouble. They’re so easy to kill that they bring more heartache than joy. They fly into the windows (windows which are so warped and stained that no other birds fly into them) and they’re so easy to kill. Daniel can walk up to the feeder and pet them so you can imagine what easy prey they are for Trouble and Scooby. I think they’ve left now and I’m glad. Finding one headless corpse was enough.

Last week, a most welcome and utterly adorable visitor appeared. The little red squirrel!

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I was giddy with excitement. I mean, just look at the little guy (or gal)! Heart melting cuteness! I took about forty pictures of the little critter but I don’t see how to create a photo gallery with this new, touchy editor so you’re spared. For now. 🙂

I watched Little Red for hours. I wondered what would happen when it met up with one of the gray squirrels, which are about twice the size. I finally got my answer when one of the gray squirrels ran onto the deck and was chased round and round my table by Little Red!

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This was the moment Little Red noticed me watching.

 

I worried about Trouble and Scooby going after Little Red. They live peacefully with the gray squirrels but the gray squirrels are so much bigger. Scooby sat with me while I watched Little Red (he seems to enjoy feeding the squirrels with me now) and didn’t show any interest until Little Red went up in the tree and squeaked. That high-pitched sound piqued Scooby’s interest and woke Trouble from his afternoon nap. I locked them in and sat watching, worried as they took turns batting at all the squirrels through the glass.

The next day, I watched for Little Red. He/she showed up in the late afternoon while Trouble and Scooby were sleeping. I took more pictures and stood watching in the open slider while Little Red ate out of the swing feeder 6-8′ away. Suddenly, a light-colored flash streaked by. I saw Little Red bail off the feeder and disappear just as a flurry of spotted feathers flew right at the railing, then disappeared. It was a hawk!

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This is actually the hawk that visited my yard in 2012, when I had a really crappy camera.

 

I was so shocked and worried for Little Red that I smacked my camera lens on the door. I finally collected my senses enough to put my camera down and I put on my boots and went out into the yard to see if I could spot the hawk or Little Red. There was no sign of the hawk but I saw a streak of dark fur dart under a stack of tires under our deck. I hoped it was Little Red but, with another, most unwelcome, visitor that I’ve noticed hanging around lately, I couldn’t be sure.

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Yes, we have rats in our neighborhood. There have always been a few little garden rats living in the greenbelts but we’ve seen more (and bigger) rats since a flipper bought and cleaned up the recluse/hoarder house down the street. Trouble and Scooby probably would have finished them off if they were allowed outside at night but we can’t let them out at night because of the coyotes. It’s crazy! There is more wildlife in this suburban neighborhood than I ever saw growing up in the sticks.

The next day I was very happy to see Little Red back. I still watch for him but I figure if he can get away from a hawk that flew in so fast I couldn’t see anything more than a streak, he can get away from Fat Trouble and Pansy Scooby. I don’t even worry about Frosty. He hasn’t killed anything in at least a decade.

As if two kinds of squirrels, rats, coyotes, hawks (and Daniel tells me he’s been hearing owls) aren’t enough, I heard a noise on the deck the other night and looked up to see two black and white striped faces looking back at me. The raccoons are back! I haven’t seen a raccoon in my yard since 2008, when we got Baby Dog.

Unfortunately, Smarty smelled the raccoons and now he frequently wants out at night and the cats sometimes hide under the table and dart out the door with him. It’s a zoo around here!

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15 thoughts on “Backyard Visitors

  1. Ha ha! Your last comment was a funny! You certainly do have a menagerie of wildlife to keep you on your toes with a camera on hand. Your feeding stations may be attracting some unwanted visitors. In the summer, residents in this area were warned not to feed the birds because bears were hungry (due to the poor blueberry crop) and entering yards looking for food. I loved the image of your pet friends “batting at all the squirrels through the glass.” Enjoyed reading your post, Trisha.

    1. Oh, wow, bears! The threat of having one of those visit would be enough to keep people from putting out food for the birds! I’m sure you’re right about my feeding stations attracting unwanted visitors. I think I need to go back to buying the expensive sunflower kernel based feed. The squirrels gobble all of it up so there’s nothing left to attract rats and the like. The rat was back this morning and both Trouble and Scooby sat inside the slider pretending they didn’t see it. :/

  2. What fun.
    I’d be out with my camera all day if I had that much wildlife so close.

    I spotted a possum (for the 1st time here) on the roof next door the other night. I was frantically trying to get a shot but couldn’t work out what setting I’d inadvertently changed on the Sony ‘mirrorless’. Picked up the DSLR and had the same problem. All black through the viewfinder and LCD screen. Anyway I was so tired from getting up early all week, I finally went to went to bed.

    Next morning I discovered I’d forgotten to take the lens cap off – both cameras!

    Now that’s real FM fatigue and brain fog for ya! 😀

    1. Oh no! That is brain fog at work! It’s terrifying at times, how befuddled we can become.

      I hope your possum neighbor comes back so we can see pictures. Your possums are so interesting and so much cuter than ours!

  3. Little Red is gorgeous and obviously well able to take care of himself/herself. You do have a lot of interesting times with your wildlife. I am sure we get possums and maybe other wildlife in our garden after dark but haven’t spotted anything during the day other than the occasional rabbit. We have had a nice variety of birds but so far I’ve not managed to photograph any.

    1. Birds are so hard to take photos of. Half of the time I end up with shots of empty branches! I often wonder what creatures might be passing by during the night. Bobcats have been spotted about a mile away. I would love to see one but not when I’m out with my dog, nor too close to my house. My cats are just not willing to stay inside 100% of the time.

  4. I wish Little Red would get some of its relatives to come stay by me so I could break up the grey monotony around here! The only wildlife other than squirrels I’ve seen in my yard is rabbits. In fact, I accidentally (and almost tragically) found their hole while mowing the backyard grass one day. Three bunnies leaped out and scared the crap out of me from a spot I had just gone over with the mower!

    And yes, I know I’m a link ho, but…. 🙂

    http://evilsquirrelsnest.com/2013/04/27/whats-up-doc/

    1. LOL! I love the conversation between the rabbit and the squirrel! It’s so cute the way the squirrel is peeking out from behind the tree while the rabbit just keeps munching.

      It’s looking like I don’t get to have a red squirrel either. After visiting every day for four or five days, Little Red hasn’t been back in several days. I saw him on the fence so he’s still alive, just not interested in coming to the feeder. He probably decided he was too good to hang out with a lowly rat!

  5. I think we see them more in our urban environments because they’re looking for food. In the sticks, nature provides everything they need. Love your red squirrel. And the Pileated Woodpecker! Nice to have them visit your yard, I have to go looking for them!

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