Sunday, July 7, 2019

Call of the Wild

When we first moved here we often saw deer and wild turkeys wandering thru the yard. Our property backs up on a wooded area and an unused farm field so the animals just roamed unimpeded.

After Samba came to live with us, we had the back yard fenced in. I was tired of taking five dogs out on leash each time they asked to go out. It took up most of my day. With a fenced yard they could all go out together and run free to play.

The downside of the fence was that the deer and turkeys could no longer come into the yard, though my garden did much better without deer grazing on the plants.

The fence was no deterrent to rabbits, raccoons and opossum. We also had one unforgettable visit from a skunk. Of course squirrels and birds continued to visit the yard at their own peril.

For several years we all coexisted pretty well but lately something has changed. It started a couple months ago when we noticed the bird feeders hanging on the deck were being emptied much more quickly than usual. One evening I glanced out the window to see a large raccoon on the deck railing scooping out the contents of the feeder. I tapped on the window but he looked at me, then continued eating. He came back the next night and then we started bringing the feeders in at night. That lasted for a couple weeks.
Last Monday morning Rob went to fill the feeders and one was gone. There were seeds strewn allover the steps but the feeder was missing. We searched under the hedge and all around the yard. Finally Tess found the empty feeder under the porch. Hmmm...

We have some chairs and a bench on the porch and in the past neighborhood cats have slept there. The dogs race to sniff the chairs whenever they go out. On night a couple weeks after the raccoon visits, I put Noah on leash to go outside. When we stepped onto the porch an opossum sleeping in a chair stood up, stretched and slowly waddled off the porch into the hedge. Noah was very excited, me not so much. We caught the opossum sleeping on the porch several more times and I'm guessing he or she still does occasionally.

A couple weeks ago Rob started out the front door, then called me to join him. It was dusk and there were three deer in the front yard grazing. They looked up at us but continued eating. They eventually moved back into the farm field.

For years we've had a barred owl living in a tree behind our fence. We hear him calling most nights. A couple times when Samba and I went outside in the early morning hours we saw him standing in the street in front of the house. He's really big!

I learned not to answer his calls when he came screaming into the yard one night. He scared me and the dogs. We learned not to mess with him.

A couple weeks ago I heard him calling from the back yard and another owl was answering from a tree in our neighbor's yard. Then last week Rob and I both noticed an annoying screeching noise coming from the neighbor's tree every night. I looked it up and discovered that it's the cry of barred owl chicks.

On the 4th I waited to take the dogs out till the fireworks had stopped. Mackey stopped and stared at something across the street. I looked to see what was distracting her and there was the owl standing in the neighbor's driveway. As I watched it flew up into the tree and the screeching started up.

Next I took Lola out and the owl was back in the driveway.  I looked away for a minute,  then saw it's shadow as it flew away. The screeching continues every night. I guess while the parents are out hunting the chicks wait in their nest and complain.

After the owl flew off I took Tess out. We heard a strange noise from the side of the house hidden by the hedge. I was trying to figure out what the noise was when it happened again a little louder. Then I heard a snort that sounded like a horse whinny so I realized it was deer. Tess and I hurried back inside.

During the daylight hours everything is fine but once the sun sets I feel that we're living in Wild Kingdom territory. They make me a little nervous but overall I'm happy to share our little plot with them.


Bella Roxy & Macdui said...

So wonderful to be able to see the wildlife. We think you're lucky.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

It's a tough balance between enjoying the wildlife and keeping our pups safe. Especially because the raccoons sure are little mischief makers (and pigs) aren't they?

Foley Monster, Pocket and River Song said...

Has there been any new construction near your house Might explain why you are having more wildlife? It is cool to see them but I wish they weren't destructive and they need to stay out of the gardens.

Molly the Airedale said...

Mom wouldn't appreciate all of that wildlife in our yard - and especially when it's dark out.

Marjie said...

I'll bet the racoon thievery is highly annoying. We have metric tons of deer here, along with smaller critters, including bunnies, a groundhog and one or more foxes. And there are multiple owls in the neighborhood; I hear them talking when I go outside late at night. There's also been a hawk or 2 flying around lately. It is nice to be able to watch the wildlife (not so much when the deer eat the garden, though, as you say).