Hi. I've hit some sort of wall with my writing ability lately. I have 2 blogs recently started, I keyed out a couple paragraphs and then I just lost it in my head on what I was wanting to do with them. Distractions have occurred with outdoor chores in preparation for the oncoming cold crappy weather ahead, tending the zoo at home, and helping out Toronto Wildlife weekly as a volunteer driver. I will get back into it, soon I hope, as the holiday season will be upon us before we know it.
In the meantime, how about some catch up on our backyard?
Shirley the Sharp-shin seems to have left us and I am betting it is because of the Coopers Hawk I've named Waldo. Actually it was a bird bud on Facebook, Carol, who made a joke about it with that name when I shared a crappy photo I took of him with my Blackberry. I was feeding my Pigeons when the Coopers came in, doing a brazen attack right in front of me. If I had my good camera, I would have gotten some great shots of him in the various perching spots he chose near me. But I was left standing there in awe, holding some leftover seed after the Pigeons jetted off. After posting the crap photo, Carol said something along the lines of "Where's Waldo? Aha, found him!" He blended in very well within the tree with a very grainy picture.
Waldo appears to be a young Coopers Hawk in my opinion. I'm no expert on plumage as one way of discovering, and of course it would certainly help to have him in the hand of an expert to tell. But for me, he looks young in the face, and his actions as well tell me he is young. I see inexperience and curiosity in his eyes, and he's not nearly as shy as some other Coopers Hawks that have come around over the years. He zips around the yard incredibly fast, which really is something to witness. Of course it sucks large for all the other birds. The Pigeons flee and even when in the house, if Waldo flies in and the Pigeons go, you can feel the rush from the living room. Their uplift and take off make our Budgies stress and let out these bizarre little sounds. The Blue Jays really start screaming, far more than what they do with Shirley, and unlike the games they play with Shirley, the Jays don't mess with Waldo. Yesterday morning, Waldo flew in after the Pigeons, and I thought he was going to hit our small kitchen window over the back deck. I saw him coming and he went over last second, this was probably more due to the pine tree right behind the house. I had a brief moment where I visualized picking him up off the back deck and looking at a cracked window. Yikes!
Here's Waldo in better view than my mobile photo...
But even with the latest predator, the other birds still come in, feeding with caution. Project Feeder Watch that we participate in with Bird Studies Canada started up this weekend for us. We've got a decent but usual list of species right now including Cardinals, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Gold Finches, House Finches, House Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, Juncos, Doves and Pigeons. It is bizarre the lack of Starlings since mid-summer. I hope I don't have some zero count days thanks to the likes of Shirley and Waldo. In almost a decade of participation, I've only ever had one zero count day.
Pierre pulled that disappearing act and his visits these days are random and short. I baby him every opportunity, holding him in close with a good feed of sunflower chips and peanut bits. He feeds alone usually while the others have to fight for ground food or what's in my other hand. If I spot Pierre's lady in the mix, she has a 50/50 shot of getting to feed with him. Perhaps this is why Pierre is on his second marriage now? LoL!
Halloween was the other week and I really wanted to try for a photo of myself in my mask with one of my hand feeders. I didn't think it would be such an issue but it was. I hand fed them, put the mask on while they watched, and that was it, they wanted no part of me. I took the mask off and in they came again. I talked to them through it, hoping the voice recognition would work. Nope. It would have been a cool "Happy Halloween" thing to share with some bird buds. Ah well.
I guess I'm not as scary as that mask first thing some mornings. :)
Pierre happy I'm back.
I should have tried it on the couple Raccoon kids still coming around at night, or our Orphan Annie. Either there'd be great success or they'd have torn the mask right off my face. As you can see, this one is quite comfortable with me. This guy here loves it when I open the shed up, he climbs in and explores, playing with the bicycle spokes or other shiny objects he sees. I park myself as I fill the feeders at night and don't mind the company I see every now and then. It's funny how I see them, for a 2 or 3 nights in a row, and then nothing for the next week or two. They are entertaining to watch but no petting the wildlife, no matter how close they come to me. Sure I may seem to be pushing the limits here but I tell people, don't f**k with them and they won't f**k with you. It's amazing what can come of being quiet and still around the wild creatures. Did I ever blog about the Deer circling me one afternoon?
Of course Meadow and I played around on the week of Halloween. She won a little costume contest at our vet even, well, one of 4 animals to win a basket full of goodies. See Angie's blog here.
Angie and I have had a few wake ups in the middle of the night as the kids get in our bins out front of the house, right outside our bedroom window. They work to get the lids open, sometimes 10 or 12 slams as it slips from their grip before they manage to wiggle in. We are very good at garbage and recycling properly, rinsing things out, composting properly, etc but the little shits still get in there at times. We have the largest bins and often don't fill them so the kids get stuck within. We've probably had to rescue them 4x in the last couple weeks. Nothing like opening your bin lid and seeing this staring up at you.
It makes me wonder how many don't get seen or even ignored when in a similar situation somewhere else and go out with the trash? We are always checking our bins nowadays to ensure nobody is stuck. Releasing them from their confinement is greatly appreciated by them. You just tilt the bin over slowly, I hold the lid shut until the bin is right down flat, flip the lid up at that point, and let them exit when they are ready to (usually it's immediately). I felt bad for one the other week that I didn't discover until mid-morning and our bin was empty. I hope he wasn't in there all night without anything to eat. Lesson learned perhaps?
We have been seeing an Opossum the odd night in recent weeks. Cute little bugger as far as Opossums go. Another misunderstood creature in our city. I get it that they can be intimidating with their long rat like tail and little razor teeth, but they don't want anything to do with us, and would sooner flee from humans than encounter them. So with ours, a very skittish soul he be. I was lucky enough the other evening, working on my stealth like ninja skills to be able to sneak outside and finally get a decent photo of him from the back deck.
I guess my writing ability really isn't lacking, I've just been too busy. Next up will be some of my Toronto Wildlife Centre adventures...