Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

February 13, 2020

Trail Cam Captures Vol 3

It's a very quiet winter here for birds in the backyard. I'm hearing this from a lot of people actually. Even the few big snow storms we've had haven't helped bring much in. If I watch long enough, I can usually spot 9 or 10 species of bird in a day, all just doing very quick visits randomly. My pigeon buddies have yet to return.

So the trail cam set up after dark here and there gives me a little something of a boost even though I am not seeing these creatures with my own eyes. Usually I set it up in the garden with a few treats, nothing that they wouldn't find under the bird feeders for the most part. Some nights there's no activity. Some nights it's creatures all throughout. I've caught 4 raccoons, 4 skunks, 2 rabbits and 1 opossum.

The other night I decided to set the cam up pointing to the gate at the side of the house. I wanted to monitor who was coming and going from up the side of the house. That's what these captures are here below. What's interesting is the time stamp with some, how close in time the creatures pass through gate from one another.

A not so striped skunk. Obviously something has caught his eye.


Ah yes, of course, a raccoon.


40 minutes later, here comes another skunk.


9 minutes later, a raccoon.


1 minute later, an opossum.


Please pardon my ID'ing the creatures in the photos as I am sure most of you know what they all are.

Currently I have the cam set to take shots every 20 seconds.  It helps me track the movements more closely than my usual once every minute.  I tried every 5 seconds one night and ended up with almost 1000 captures.

Anyway, it was very quiet the next 4 hours from that opossum photo.  Then as night was coming to an end.  The creatures were heading off to bed.

Good night raccoon.


Good night skunk.


Good night raccoon #2.


Good night raccoon #3.


Good night raccoon #4


Perhaps not all that exciting to someone reading this blog but I find it very interesting.

Here's a few more recent captures.

The rabbit is seen most mornings after 7 am but disappears I'm up around 7:30.


Amazing there's tolerance here with these 3 animals.


I've seen 2 rabbits out back with my own eyes. Not on the cam.


A good place to wash one's privates,  Do you see the other raccoon?


Same 2 still around half an hour later?


The rabbit doesn't seem to care for any of the other night visitors. It's always alone.


This particular night, the opossum spent an hour here in front of the cam.  I'm not sure what he's getting to eat because anything I purposely set out is long gone.


Even with the raccoon coming through, the opossum stuck around till after 6. 


I look forward to milder nights where I can sit out back and watch some of the animals with my own eyes again.

January 23, 2020

Squirrel Appreciation Day

January 21s... Squirrel Appreciation Day. I'm a bit late with this post because I've been really sick for the last week. So sick that I have not been to work since last Wednesday.

As you might realize, we appreciate our squirrel buds here. Always have. Always will. Even when they bite into my garden tomatoes or dig up my freshly planted marigolds. They add to the whole backyard and I can't imagine not having them around.

Ripper has been a blessing the last near 2 years now.


More so during my illness, as he came around for 5 days straight. Ripper's trend of the last number of months is once every 5 to 10 days to grace us with his presence. What's up with that? He must have a fairly reliable food source closer to wherever he lives.

I love having these close interactions with some of our yard critters. Without a Pigeon visit since January 2nd, seeing Ripper more has been great. With me being so unwell, the time outs with him on the back deck make me forget what I am dealing with for the moment.


I think back to when I was a young boy and staying at my grandmother's often throughout the year, she always looked after the squirrels in her backyard. Peanut butter sandwiches daily for them. Some came right to her back door for the hand out every day. I'm sure this influenced me early on.

I know a lot of people don't appreciate them, seeing them as pests. The outdoors belongs to the animals. You may as well learn to live with them all and life will be a lot easier. Hell, get to know one or two like we have.

Here's to the squirrels!

January 13, 2020

Trail Cam Captures Vol. 2

It was a really nasty weekend weather-wise going from +12 C with approximately 60 mm of rain on Saturday to a windchill near -15 C on Sunday. I put the cam out Sunday night once Mother Nature settled herself although there was still some drizzle throughout the night. I know the creatures have been roaming around. I see the tracks some mornings. I have seen them some nights after work. What I got on the cam last night is pretty much what I have been seeing for weeks now...

One raccoon


Two raccoons (some nights 3 or 4)


A skunk (some nights up to 3)


An opossum (some nights 2)


I put a slab of plywood out in the garden after all that rain. Yes, there's some food on it like shelled peanuts, sunflower chips and I also bought some rabbit food mix at the Bulk Barn. I am not sure what the rabbit may be eating these days since nothing is growing and maybe this will help him along. The plywood sheet is easy to clear after any snowfalls and keeps the food out of the mud during the rain and thawing days too.

After midnight, a raccoon visit again.


This cat has been appearing quite often on the cam. I'm not certain if it belongs to anyone or not. I've never seen it with my own eyes, just on the cam.


It's quiet time for a while until a rabbit shows up at 3 am.


Raccoon visit again. This is rather funny to see unfold in the few shots here.


Notice the plyboard lifting?


A little higher now.


I assume he was looking for food underneath.

The rabbit returns now at almost 5 am.


So does an opossum.


Some nights I can tell it's two different rabbits but not this time.


The rabbit was in next door's yard when I retrieved the cam about 7:30 am.

The sightings are usual for us, nothing exciting. I'm sure I said this before, t's great having the cam, allowing me to see who is coming through when we are sleeping. It's nice to see everyone appears to be doing well this winter, though so far it's not been a harsh one.

January 9, 2020

End of an Era



Over the Christmas break we had a couple Hawk attacks in the backyard.

A Sharp-shinned Hawk showed up one morning and went after the House Sparrows in our holly bush. I have nothing against any hawk, they do what they do, and it's all a part of nature. Actually watching them hunt can be quite the spectacle. This bird dove at the bush but didn't get anything despite numerous Sparrows fleeing for their lives. It sat above the bush for some time, looking in where it could, and then made another strike. A lone House Sparrow made a break for it, going over our fence and into next door's yard. It was heading straight for one of their barren bushes along the adjacent fence but the hawk was much too fast and got the bird. I watched this all from the kitchen window minus earlier on when I stepped outside, going out the front door and sneaking up the side of the house for a few photos. One thing I have found in my experiences with Sharp-shinned Hawks is that they are a lot more tolerable of my presence compared to it's near twin, much bigger twin I might add, being the Cooper's Hawk.


The very next day in came a Cooper's Hawk. It too made an attack on the holly bush, going after the Sparrows. The Cooper's Hawk will actually walk the perimeter of the bush, looking in where it can and sometimes even disappearing inside the bush to try and take a bird. The Hawk was not successful this day here, not that I saw.


A day later though, it caught and ate a Pigeon right at the steps of our back deck. I did not witness any of this but saw the feathery mess when I got home from work.


This prompts me to key this blog as I really do feel like it is the end of an era.

Anyone who has followed my blogs or knows me either personally or from social media should know that over the last near 8 years my fondness for Pigeons has grown immensely. Years before I wasn't a big fan just because I didn't understand them and found them to be piggish birds at the feeders, bullies too because of their size. Even with my not liking them so much I still managed to try and help one years ago. Somehow a broken winged Pigeon ended up in our backyard. How he got here, I don't know, because he could not fly.


Then that one day in July of 2012 everything changed when a lone Pigeon found Angie and I out back one morning.


We watched this bird walk the yard, heading towards us. He hopped up the back steps and then walked across the deck. He looked at both of us and then in the blink of an eye he hopped up onto Angie's lap. Moments later he hopped from her lap and onto mine. He spent the whole weekend with us just hanging around and acting like one of the family, even as we had guests over later that Saturday afternoon. He was soon named Pierre. It didn't take much time for Pierre to steal my heart. I tell people getting to know Pigeons individually changes everything. They really are like people. They have their own personalities. They love. They bicker and squabble. Pierre was with us for over 5 years. He and I saw a lot of stuff in the backyard in that time, both good and bad. He didn't just come here for the food either. There was a bond between us. Pierre trusted me. He would sit with me outside for lengthy amounts of time, either on my lap or on the little table beside my chair.


I met a lot of Pierre's friends in that time. Some became individuals that I named. Some became hand feeding friends just like him. Pierre wasn't always keen on that and often had temper tantrums when other birds neared us. Some of Pierre's flock were here for a very short amount of time and I never knew what happened to them. Some of Pierre's flock did fall to the hawks in the winter. I always worried about Pierre during these months but his disappearances for weeks at a time told me he knew better than to come here. I think his longest stretch away was 54 days. If he did come to visit in the winter, he would sit at the back door and wait on the clothes line post in the early part of the morning. I swear he knew my schedule. He would have a good feed and then fly off. I always knew the day would come when he wouldn't be with me. August 4th, 2017 was the last day he flew away from me and never to return. He was a gift. He taught me about his kind. He was my friend and not just a Pigeon. Together we taught others about Pigeons and how they aren't just dirty flying rats although one should wash their hands thoroughly after handing a Pigeon, well any animal for that matter, hell even after shaking most peoples' hands or any other contact with them. HA!

After Pierre's disappearance, much of his flock still came to visit, this included his mate I named Mrs Pierre.


Then let's not forget about the Jerseys. It's funny how it seemed so many more people took to these two than Pierre, and I know it was just the whole visual aspect of them.


Overall everyone had it for Pierre, admiring the bond between him and I. They may not have had it initially but after 5+ years, how could one not have some sort of appreciation?


The fall of 2017 was much like other fall seasons, in came the hawks. A few pigeons fell to these predators. My friends were more nervous than ever before. I swear Pierre was their king. Without him to lead them elsewhere, they seemed lost to some degree. I remember it was December 6th, because it was my younger brother's birthday, and I remember watching Mrs Pierre, the Jerseys and the rest all leave here together after another hawk attack, though it was unsuccessful. They never returned after that.

Early on in 2018 a few new birds came around. I befriended a couple of them.

There was Fitz; who you know passed away not too long ago due to the loss of sight in his left eye and euthanasia was the only option after many weeks of treatment to clear up his wound. This month would have been our 2 year anniversary.


Then there's Charlie. We watched her grow from being a bit of a light weight runt who got pushed around a lot by the other birds, and who turned into a big beautiful girl who eventually stood on her own. February would mark her 2 year anniversary.


There was Dorothy.


And there was Claire.


I was really smitten with her. She was like a lost soul, often coming here on her own. She needed to be with a flock and learn from the others, especially about the dangers here in the winter. I did what I could for her. I always worried about her. Some of you might remember this adventure we had.


Both unfortunately met the talons of a Cooper's Hawk last winter. I am filling up with sadness adding these photos.

I cannot forget Sherman. He's fairly new but what a nice bird to befriend.


This is how Sherman came to greet me most days after we got to know each other.


Digging through photos, there are others who I got to know.

Petey. He was rather unusual, overly tame from day one. Like so many others, he flew off one day and never came back.


Racer. Can you guess why he got that name?


Snake. He was pretty cool.


Red.


He and Pierre used to duke it out early on but eventually became friends. I could really use a warm summer morning like in the photo below right about now. To be with those two again as well as not sit here in the -15 C chill of this January morning.


One more, Mickey. She was small but what a scrapper, standing her ground among the others. I sure did pose and take a lot of photos with them, didn't I?


More names come to mind but I think you get the idea that I've made friends with a lot of these birds.

With the season of the hawks upon us once again, it was like deja vu on January 2nd as I watched the small flock sit up in a tree above me. They were too afraid to come down for a feed. An alarm call went off from a Blue Jay and away went the Pigeons. None have returned since. It's now a week later. I may be a little dramatic and jumping the gun but my gut tells me they won't be back.

Past years I have noticed what I would call a scout Pigeon that would come in, sit on a neighbour's roof a few doors down and just observe things from afar. I especially noticed this if Angie and I went away for a few days. The scout would see me, then fly away and minutes later a bunch of Pigeons would fly in. I've never read anything like this about them but it makes sense. I figure I wouldn't read such things because there's not really much written about the behaviour of wild Pigeons. Yes, my Pigeon friends are still wild birds, even if they don't act that way with me. I bring this up because I keep a look out for a scout when I am outside.

I tell friends that while the threats are lingering here, that I prefer the Pigeons to be away, and hopefully safer. I'm sure they are avoiding birds of prey no matter where they go. I suspect they all live at the high rises just down the road and there is a pair of Red-tailed Hawks that are seen quite often hunting around those buildings.


Pigeons depend solely on humans for food, even if it's just shitty bread crumbs someone is throwing to them in the park.

I do hope at some point the birds return or a new flock finds me. I know some will think I am off my rocker if I get excited to see a Pigeon out back but most will understand and hopefully be happy for me.

Angie got me this really cool shirt for Christmas. I love my Pigeon pals and am not afraid to let people know!


Sherman approved.


It's not really the end of an era, is it?