ALL CREATURES (MOSTLY SMALL)

CFFC: Nature Animals

This is the perfect topic for today. I had an encounter this morning that reminded me that living with wild things changes over time. When once upon a time, they would scurry if I lifted my camera, now the creatures settle in and won’t move. I don’t mean won’t move if I yell at them. They won’t move even if I walk right up to them, stare them in the eye and say “Time for you to go home, buddy.”

Red squirrel and a Chickadee
Our little chipmunk

We have a little chipmunk. So far, we have just one of them. We used to have dozens of them, but we had a few years when the bobcats moved in and they took care of all those chipmunks. But this particular little guy showed up a couple of years ago and has been going from a shy little creature to a brazen little furry that shows absolutely no fear of us at all.

The red one (not the yellow one)
Goldfinches

He’s very small. Just a few ounces of stripy fur. For him to get into the flat feeder, he has a long run from somewhere under the forsythia hedge up the pillars, then up the pole on which the feeders hang, then a jump into the feeder.

Lurking Brown-Headed Cowbird
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Pileated-Woodpecker — a really big one!
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker and a Nuthatch

I had chased him out of the feeder several times this morning because he takes over, eats all the seeds, ignores the protestations of the birds, and just settles in. This time, I opened the door, told him it was time for him to move on. Instead of running away, he hunkered down and hid amidst the seeds in the feeder.

I went outside and figured he’d make a run for it, but he didn’t. I finally went to the feeder, tipped it towards me, and he sat there. Literally inches from my nose, staring at me while I stared at him. He wasn’t moving.

I said “You really need to move on.”

He sat there in the seeds. Finally, I started shaking the feeder and reluctantly — and slowly — he jumped to the pole and left. A squirrel immediately took his place. I’m sure the squirrel is still there.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but the fear factor has vanished. All these birds and creatures used to run away when we came onto the deck. Now, they sit there and watch us, stamping their tiny little feet if we are late providing one of their meals. Somehow, sometime, they figured out that we aren’t going to hurt them. I’m not sure when it happened, but this year they are fearless. Even the flying squirrels don’t fly away when we go out on the deck. They just sit there on the pole. Watching us.

Flying Squirrels
Creatures of the night

That is why the cage feeders aren’t up because the flying squirrels and raccoons will empty those feeders every night . I love the flyers and am impressed at the cleverness of the raccoons, but I simply can’t afford to feed all those creatures along with the birds, daytime squirrels and of course, our tame chipmunk.

I was never much of a disciplinarian as a mother. I guess the wild things have figured it out. At least I don’t have to convince them to do their homework.



Categories: Anecdote, Animals, birds, cee's photo challenge, chipmunk, flying squirrel, Photography, Squirrel, Wildlife, Woodpeckers

Tags: , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. I’ve always read that feeding wildlife is one of the biggest disservices we can do for them because it makes them dependent on us for food rather than relying on their own hunting and gathering skills. But all those photos show why we do it anyway…. because, cute critters!

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    • Also we feed them because by continuously BUILDING, we’ve stolen their homes and their feeding grounds. It was all well and good to let them eat when there were plenty of open fields with seeds and insects and stuff. Now, it’s all condos, tidy backyards, no weeds (which is why we don’t have butterflies anymore). We have lost 50 billion — BILLION — birds over the past 10 years — and that’s just in the U.S. We are losing millions more every year. The squirrels have adapted pretty well to living around humans, but almost everything else dies if we don’t feed them.

      At first, I was feeding them in the winter when everything was under snow and they were dying of cold and starvation. But eventually, I realized a lot of their natural foods were gone. New England is one of the last places in the country with more trees than asphalt — and I wonder how long that will last. Even that is limited by the weather. On a bad snow year, we have months when there’s no food for them at all. We used to have a lot of swans, but they froze to death one winter when the lakes were so solid with ice, they couldn’t get into the water to eat.

      People frequently ask what happens to the birds in the winter. The answer? If they don’t migrate to warmer climates — and many don’t — they die. By the thousands. By the tens of thousands. By the millions. And this isn’t an American problem. It’s a worldwide problem.

      There are more plastic flamingos than living flamingos. More stuffed lions than living lions.

      I love my fat birds and plump squirrels because that fat will help them survive the winters. I feed them because I can. When I’m gone, who will take over? I don’t want to think about it.

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  2. You are very nice mother to the living things of the nature, Marilyn. Love you.❤😁

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  3. Great shots! Delightful too. Such amazing colours.

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    • Birds are definitely colorful! I think that’s why we find them so interesting. Today I we were visited (first time) by a Yellow-Shafted Flicker (another woodpecker) and a Baltimore Oriole. I’ve seen Orioles before, just never at one of our feeders and while I know there are Flickers all over this area, this is the first time they have dropped by for a visit. The Oriole is a glorious color!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fab photos of more of your wonderful little visitors. I reckon it’s a compliment to you that they feel so bold in your presence now. 🙂

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    • They seem to have gotten used to all of us. Some birds are just shy. The Blue Jays and Cardinals are gone as soon as we get near the door, much less out on the deck, but the wee little birds are often surprisingly friendly. The squirrels and chipmunks get very tame when you feed them. There’s a big park in the middle of Boston where the squirrels will walk right up to you and take food from your hands. And the swans — our huge mute swans which are originally from England — will happily take food from anyone who offers it. If they were more agile, I think they’d chase you down the road!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure you’re right, they probably would chase you down the road if they could! I’ve not heard of swans taking food from people’s hands though – that’s new. Over here they’re more likely to just take your hand! Still, they’re incredibly beautiful, and of course all ours belong to the queen. 🙂

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  5. THE SQUIRRELS HANG FROM OUR BIRD FEEDERS, TOO.

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  6. Those Goldfinches were having quite the discussion! That photo of the squirrel from the rear….what a hoot, Marilyn.

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  7. I do love your wildlife photos. I’m afraid that if you were rich enough to feed all the visitors their numbers would grow to the point where the deck would collapse under their weight, or maybe they would just move indoors with you and Garry.

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    • I think the chipmunk is pretty much ready. I don’t know how big a family he has, but he was obviously completely unafraid of me and Garry was standing by the door laughing hysterically. Until I SHOOK the feeder, he would not leave. He wanted to stay in the feeder. But I notice he hasn’t been back today — yet. But I just put out fresh food.

      I’m not feeding them as much and I’m not feeding them every day. There’s a ton of food in the woods and they should remember to eat it. Until they move in. Now THAT would make El Duque nuts, wouldn’t it? Squirrels in the HOUSE? Wow. Best home video EVER.

      Liked by 1 person

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