OUR GARDEN’S NEW LOOK

It used to be when I looked out my back door, mostly I saw crabgrass. In early spring, for a while, we have dandelions and violets, but mostly it was crabgrass all summer and snow all winter — with leaves between summer and winter.

This morning I looked out and watched four squirrels chase each other around a tree. They move fast, but not nearly as fast as the chipmunks. They race across the lawn at lightning speed. Occasionally the woodchuck pops out of one of his holes to see if there’s anything interesting to eat. We throw him leftover veggies. He is particularly fond of asparagus.

We have a whole flock of Goldfinch

There are easily a dozen birds’ nests in the huge forsythia hedge that entirely hides a chain-link fence. Normally, we’d cut it back, but it’s full of birds, nests, and baby birds. Nearby are the bigger birds. We’ve got a healthy selection of woodchucks, chipmunks, red and grey squirrels. At night, squirrels fly and raccoons are always looking for a little action.

Every creature loves the hedge. We can’t cut down the holly either because it is also full of nests. Robins are especially fond of the holly. They love those bright red berries.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker

There are usually five or six different species of birds all eating at the feeders. Sometimes the chipmunks and squirrels join the party. Occasionally, the blue jays take over or the doves muscle in. It’s not unusual to see three species of woodpeckers and half a dozen songbirds.

It’s not just looking at the crabgrass anymore. The yard is wildly alive with creatures running, flying, diving into their holes, flying in and out of the hedge. It’s kind of amazing. I could call it a zoo, but a zoo is far more organized. This is just nature.

It’s messy. A natural yard doesn’t have a tidy trimmed look. We do our best to keep the deck clean by hanging the feeders over the yard. Otherwise? As far as the birds and creatures are concerned, mi casa, su casa. As long as I can manage it.

As I finished giving them their final feed, a hawk dropped out of the sky and tried to snag a squirrel. Mr. Squirrel leapt from the feeder to the deck, flipping the feeder in the process and ran at warp speed down to the ground and into the hedge. The hawk flew away, unfed.

The hedge protects the birds and other creatures. Hawks can’t penetrate it. Neither can the bobcats. The squirrel went to his tree and the other birds are returning. I think there has been a Cooper’s Hawk getting very close, but so far, not getting his catch. That hawk has been around often, explaining all those flipped feeders. When the squirrels make a break for it, they move fast and everything goes flying.

The birds are back while Mr. Squirrel takes some personal quiet time in his tree.



Categories: #animals, #Birds, #chipmunk, #Photography, #Squirrel, Anecdote, Blackstone Valley, bluebirds, Goldfinch, Spring, Wildlife, Woodpeckers

Tags: , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. Desperately cute critters, all of them! You’ve made my day again, so thank you.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head and I agree entirely that a natural yard doesn’t have to look all tidy and perfect. In fact, in my view it shouldn’t look tidy and trimmed at all, otherwise it doesn’t look natural. Give me a mass of cute wildlife making a mess of a yard over a perfectly manicured look devoid of animal life any day. One thing though, our goldfinches are quite different to yours, although both, of course, are very attractive and lovely to see. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Wonderful! Wonderful pics Marilyn.
    I took a couple of pics of a tiny woodpecker during a walk in the woods the other day. I haven’t identified him, He hangs out with the chickadees trying to get birdseed or sunflower seeds from folks. I think he’ll even land on your hand – like the chickadees. Though he seems shyer than they are. He might be that Hairy Woodpecker that you show here? Wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t a different name of him though. Maybe Harry Woodpecker?? I’m sure they don’t care what we call ’em though…

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  3. How exciting to see your yard come alive with so many new family members!

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    • Thank you! This year, we have gone from birds and a few squirrels, to everything furry and feathered all gathering from morning until dark. I think all the feeding we’ve done has encouraged a lot of the smaller song birds to nest and breed, so we have dozens of Goldfinch and these days, a lot of Bluebirds, all kinds of woodpeckers — and anything else that lives in the woods. They sing up a storm in the morning, too.

      I am not sure if they are normally this energetic. Everything is running around and other than the Cooper’s Hawk who keeps hoping to get a meal, they all manage to get along. THAT is unusual. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a varied collection of creatures and birds in one small area tolerating each other and managing to share the feeders. We must be doing something right. I’m not sure exactly what that “right” thing is.

      One way or the other, it’s a pleasure to watch the wild things being themselves right under our noses.

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  4. I am always uplifted when I read one of your “wild birds & critters” posts. It breaks my heart more and more, watching all the development around here now, and knowing the wild green spaces are doomed for the most part. I’m glad one still exists that some greedy idiot with his eye on a money bag and not on the beauty of such places hasn’t gotten his claws into your yard. May it ever be so.

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    • So far, so good. The only reason we’ve survived is because we are too far for most people to commute from here to Boston or anywhere where work exists We don’t have commuter rails, so it’s drive or work from home. But if they make commuting easier? This won’t last either. We hope for the best, but I don’t expect anything like “the best.”

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  5. Your yard reminds me a little of that old Creedence song. “Looking out my back door”

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  6. How wonderful to have this feast of nature right outside your door! You’re doing a wonderful job supporting all these creatures by keeping your garden so natural ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • We aren’t so much keeping the garden natural as failing to do anything to make it unnatural. It has become fashionable to have a completely natural environment — and since we’ve gotten too old to do serious gardening or even limited gardening (Owen mows the lawns and that’s pretty much it), it has become fashionable. The good news is that is has brought all these wild things to our home and it’s a lot less work — and it’s free.

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  7. You could provide field trips to your backyard. Let the kids see nature up close and personal. Your yard is wonderful, and the photos are always a treat.

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    • Most people around here have very natural environments. We ONLY have 2.5 acres. Most people have a lot more land, most of which is completely wild. I don’t think anyone has a manicured lawn. Some have a little bit in the front, but mostly, we all have decks and the rest is pretty much as nature intends. It’s great for the wildlife and it is a whole lot less work and expense that the manicured version. I was never all that impressed with perfect lawns anyway. Unless you are playing baseball, I don’t see the point. There is nothing more boring than plain, flat, neat grass.

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  8. Hi Marilyn, I love your picture and little tales. I am so glad you and Garry love nature so much.

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    • We live in the right area for it. We have 2.5 acres, but that’s a really TINY plot by local standards. our neighbors have 27, 40, 30 acres and almost all of it is wild. They clear out small patches for the occasional barbecue, but in an area with no sidewalks and essentially, no one walking the road — and we are all set back from the road and hidden all year by trees — no one would know we had lawns anyway.

      Not having to worry about maintaining neat gardens never appealed to me anyway. I always wanted to plant things so that they looked natural. Now, they just ARE natural and all we had to do was nothing.

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