Here’s a little reprieve from the winter’s snow and ice. The photos were taken when Buzz and I were checking the nature preserve for invasive plants. We were near a horse pasture and they seemed to gravitate towards us – beckoning the others to come over and visit.
Last year, a family of bluebirds nested right outside my office window. It was so much fun to watch them build their nest. The eggs hatched and mom and dad both helped feed the babies. The first clutch was successful and they all flew the coop. Typically, bluebirds will have 2 clutches a season. The nest needs to be cleaned out and they will build a new nest.
Soon after building their second nest, I observed the bluebird poking his head in and out but not going inside. He looked perplexed. I went out to investigate. When I opened the door to the house, to my surprise – I found a frog inside the house. I assisted in getting him to a nice safe place and figured it was just a fluke. The next day, I observed the bluebird doing the same thing – poking his head in and out over and over again. I opened the door to the house and who do you suppose was there? Mr. Frog was back in the exact same spot. I discovered it was a Gray treefrog who happens to be very fond of wood, trees and bark. I moved the frog even further away and the bluebirds had another successful clutch. Perhaps Mr. Frog turned into a handsome prince and lived happily ever after.
About 3 years ago, I started taking photos of the critters we have running around in the yard. It is fun to see how wild animals respond to people. Some are not phased at all and don’t flinch a feather or paw when humans are close by. It is as if we are all living in perfect harmony.
To start the new year off, here is an introduction to one of the regulars.
The Squirrels – Pinky and her baby Winky.
One day I saw Pinky moving her babies into the brand new woodpecker house. They really liked their new digs.
The squirrels in the yard are numerous and provide hours of amusement with their antics and gymnastic feats. We have had some incredible jumpers who we have dubbed Rocky and Waldo. My husband is constantly trying to outwit them by strategically moving bird feeders around and as he says, “The squirrel always gets the last laugh.”
I was walking past my Peegee Hydrangia bush, which had grown to a very large size, and heard a distict buzzing noise. It was as though the entire bush was ready to ‘take off’. The humming was very loud. I looked at the flowers and noticed that upon each one were a variety of bees, hornets and wasps. I had never seen so many in one place. Every day I check back and there are hundreds of bees swarming the ‘bee tree’. We even saw the elusive honey bee. Oh, how happy that made me. The varieties were too numerous to count.
I don’t use pesticides in the yard so we have a lot of very interesting bugs, amphibians and birds. I also noticed a huge amount of toads and frogs in the yard this year. I love seeing the variety of critters that can thrive when the environment is inviting. Ours is a very friendly house for all the critters.
I really like milkweed. It smells heavenly. It started coming up in the front garden a few years ago and I started to see monarch butterflies. The other day, as I was walking into the garage – I noticed one beautiful monarch caterpillar munching on the milkweed.
Here is an interesting time-lapsed video (on YouTube) of a monarch caterpillar forming a chrysalis.
As dusk was approaching, I walked by the window and looked out and took a double take. Right outside my living room, was a magnificent Barred Owl in our small black cherry tree.
Evidently, the Barred Owl does not mind the cold because Minnesota winters can be extreme. Today was rather nice out though, a balmy 25 degrees, and I’m sure the owl decided to go for little spin of the neighborhood in pursuit of his evening meal. As the owl sat rotating his head round and round – looking for something to eat, I began to fear that Trixie, the mouse, might be on the dinner menu. Fortunately, I did not witness the demise of Trixie or any of our other small critters running around the yard – at least today.
The next evening, Oliver came back to the exact same spot, patiently sitting for over an hour in the small Black Cherry tree. Finally, he hunched over, stared down at the ground and made his move. He carried away what appeared to be a vole. Once settled in a new tree, he swallowed his evening meal whole and just sat there for what seemed like an eternity. Later, as I walked by the window again – I looked out to see Oliver sitting back in the cherry tree.
I like to keep my windows open in the summer and have often heard the owls calling out to each other, hoo-hoo-to-hoo, usually around 3 in the morning or so. It is an amazing sound. They must live close by but where, I do not know. They are truly a sight ot behold.
The snow keeps coming down and turning the world into a winter wonderland. I really like snow hugging the trees. We decided to go snowshoeing 2 days ago and as we made our way through the backyard, we walked towards the wren house that Buzz put up last summer. All of a sudden we stopped in our tracks as a little face peered out at us. Buzz asked, “Is that a face I see?” It was…Trixie, the mouse we named a few summers ago. Of course I didn’t have my camera but there she was, plain as day, sticking her head out of the wren house – cute. I didn’t know that mice liked to climb trees. She was safe and sound in her cozy abode. I went back later and took a photo of the wren house but she did not make and appearance.
in the bird house
Every year, we know Spring has come when Momar, the Marsupial, makes his first appearance. He slowly made his way up to the feeder and ate the seeds on the ground. Possums are very slow moving and can’t seem to run. The way they react to danger is to feign death by ‘playing possum’. Possums (short for opossum) are built for comfort – not speed.
Opossums have claws on all fingers fore and hind except on the two thumbs.
A few days later, Momar was in a life and death situation. Two black labs were making their way over from the pond as Momar slowly made his way down the path. I flew into action, ran down the stairs and out the back door. At that point, Momar was already ‘playing possum’ as the lab was heading right towards him. I screamed at the dogs and they were startled and ran away.
A minute later, Momar started his slow journey again. I watched until he disappeared into the horizon.The Marsupila
The Barn Swallows built a nest on the front porch this year. They built their nest out of mud and lined it with some some soft material. It was not built on a ledge, rather, it came straight out from the stucco – an amazing feat of engineering. I put a potty box underneath to catch all the dropping. The birds seemed very upset for a few days and I noticed that one of the babies had died. Buzz removed it from the nest. They seem fine now and almost ready to fly.