Dog Blog – Cat Chat

Bees, Bugs

The Bee Tree

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.

The Bee Tree (Peegee Hydrangia)
swarming with bees.

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.

Bugs, Butterflies

The Monarch Caterpillar

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.

Monarch catepillar on milkweed
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed
Monarch Catepillar munching on milkweed
Monarch Caterpillar munching on milkweed

Here is an interesting time-lapsed video (on YouTube) of a monarch caterpillar forming a chrysalis.

Animals, Birds

Oliver – the owl

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.

Barred Owl

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.

Animals, Mice

Trixie – the mouse

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.

Snow and wren house.

Wren House

in the bird house

Animals, Marsupials

The Marsupial sees his shadow

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.

Possum foot

I noticed that Momar had a tattered ear and wondered with whom he had had an altercation. He didn’t seem any worse for the wear.Possum with torn ear

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

Animals, Birds

Swallows on the front porch

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.

3 baby swallows in nest
3 baby swallows in nest
Momma Swallow checks on babies
Momma Swallow checks on babies
Baby Swallow in nest
Baby Swallow ready to fly the coop
Animals, Birds

Piliated Wood Pecker

After we moved in, we started putting up bird feeders and bird houses. Aside from the fact that we have every squirrel in Lakeville feeding at out house (sure they like to eat and run), there are a few other interesting animals that swing by on a regular basis. Plato, the Pileated woodpecker, comes by often. He really likes the suet feeder. At times we have seen 4 pileated woodpeckers together. Plato is the leader. I feel honored that he makes this one of his regular stops. What a majestic bird.

Pileated Woodpecker