Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

December 22, 2010

Return of the Hawks... Winter 2010

The cold weather has set in, the snow is on the ground and Hawks are all around. It's true, more and more can be seen through this season as a lot of their food source seemingly disappears in the snow... small mammals. Smaller birds become more of a staple diet through these months.

How do I know? Steady attacks at my bird feeders by these birds of prey.

There definitely is at least one Coopers Hawk who has been taking out some Pigeons lately. I don't mind really because Pigeons are a dime a dozen around here. Heck, I can even handle the mess they leave in the aftermath.

A gross sad sighting to some but this is life in the world of the wild. A Hawk only kills what he needs to eat, to survive. If you take the idea that this was a living creature out of your mind for a moment... look at that picture above, such contrast over the snow, the markings on the feathers are quite nice too.

I see more Hawks in my travels too! Mostly Red Tailed Hawks along the highways. On my 19 km trek from work to home, I see 4 every afternoon. Obviously 2 pairs.

I have seen another Red Tail a number of times on Scarlett Road as I get nearer to home. This one is rather bold and doesn't seem to be bothered too much by people in his vicinity. Too many I try to photograph high-tail from me long before I can get a zoom on them.

Last Saturday I was driving along Hwy 427 and counted 9 Hawks (all Red Tails I think) from Derry Road to Hwy 7 which isn't any more than 10 kms or so. Impressive! The thought of slamming on the brakes, jumping out and getting a photo run through my mind; but not such an easy task when driving 105 km/hr.

I snapped this one that seemed to hover just at the top of this hill. I thought I might get an eye-level in-flight shot but when I reached the top of the hill, he was gone.

A little further up the road I spotted this guy sitting at an intersection. I snapped this from my passenger window.

I've noticed a number of American Kestrels in my travels lately too! Three were in an area at the top of Hwy 427 last week. I took this picture through my front windshield before he flew off.

I must add that it's not just the winter when I see Hawks. They are just more visible at this time, to me anyways. All through the year, at any given time, I can have some bird of prey make or try to make a meal of one of my feathered friends. This Sharp Shin Hawk visited a few months back and caught himself a little House Sparrow.

I know a few who get quite upset over the fact of such birds visiting their properties/feeders and making a meal of the birds they feed. While it's never been my intention when backyard bird feeding, and I do my best to keep the feeders in spots with quick escape routes and hide outs... sometimes it just happens that the Hawk is clever and quick enough or a frightened bird goes the wrong way. Luckily for me it's been commoners that show up here in large numbers like House Sparrows, European Starlings and Pigeons who get nabbed. Catching a Blue Jay or Northern Cardinal would be heart-breaking to me since I see not much more than a pair of each.

But not every bird who gets caught, gets eaten. This Sharp Shin has a European Starling in his clutches and we thought he was done for but after a couple minutes of struggle, the Starling broke free and flew off. We sure don't need the television on, just have to look out the kitchen window for a daily story.

So, in your travels, keep your eye to the sky and around you, and you just might see one or a few of these guys along the way. Enjoy them!

December 12, 2010

Grey Jays and Algonquin Park... November 2010

About a month ago I visited Algonquin Park for the very first time ever in my life. Angie and I were taken up there by some friends of ours who are familiar with the area. We had a mission for this trip and that was to find and experience the presence of Grey Jays nicknamed "Whiskey Jacks" or "Camp Robbers".

I heard the stories of these birds, and while I believed them, it is nothing compared to actually seeing them in person. A mid-sized bird with a seemingly fearless attitude who will raid campsites, picnic sites, etc and steal the food of the people on site. Bold enough to fly right into the palm of a person's hand for some grub too!

While they aren't the most vibrant colored bird in the area; they still are quite a fine looking species.

We could have easily spent the whole day in this one spot and playing with the Jays.

The photo below is my favorite shot from the afternoon. I do love the hand shots but this one is just right for what I wanted to capture.

If you notice in the shots, they are all banded (colored bands on the legs). The birds are wild but they are heavily researched. The banding is for tracking and ID'ing the birds.

One of the reasons, or perhaps this has been discovered with the research so far is that the Grey Jays are declining in numbers along the most southern points of their range. The longer summers and autumns are to blame. The Jays are hoarders and rely upon the cold weather to act as a refrigerant and keep their food. So, while the weather stays warmer longer, their stored food rots much faster. It's lead to less successful breeding. It might be a decade or less and Grey Jays will be a rare sighting or perhaps not seen in places like Algonquin Park. Sad for us since this is a 3 hour drive on a good day to get to this spot... and since it's a winter spot for the birds, traveling up there, weather is often an issue.

It was +8c that afternoon. Toronto was really enjoying the spring like temperatures and lots of sun that week. I remember it well as I was on vacation. But, Algonquin had snow already.

We had another first sighting that afternoon... a Black Backed Woodpecker! They look alot like our Downys but the back is a mostly solid black color. We were treated with a good 5 minutes of watching him on this tree. Photography was not easy in the dense woods. I stayed well back because I didn't want to frighten him off. Not a bad shot though.

We picnic'd at this spot. The water was unbelievably calm! The sun felt so nice as it beamed down upon us.

Of course lots of Black-capped Chickadees were present. Always a treat since they are quite comfortable diving in for some grub too.

Deep in the woods we heard the Boreal Chickadees. We sorta saw them way up in the trees, buzzing back and forth. I hope on our next visit we might get a good visual of them... and maybe a photograph or two. With that being said, I did not take this last photo and borrowed it from Google Images.

I wonder who else out there reading this has experienced the fun of hanging out with those Grey Jays?

November 29, 2010

Pine Siskins are back!

It hit approximately +7c this afternoon and the sun was shining. A wonderful day for the second last day of November I must say!

I got home from work and right after I got the coffee on, took Meadow outside to enjoy this fantastic afternoon. She's gotten a little fussy when it comes to weather over the past couple years. I remember when she was 2 years old and it could be -30c outside and she'd join me outside at 1am to fill the feeders for the morning visitors and have a blast the whole time out there. Nowadays (she's 7), she just isn't so keen on cooler weather.

There's quite a few birds buzzing around this afternoon. A pair of Cardinals, one Downy Woodpecker, a Blue Jay, four Chickadees, probably a dozen Finches (Gold and House) and those darn Pigeons.

In the mix of all the sounds, I heard a different sound, and one I have not heard in a couple years. Instantly I knew what it was (Pine Siskin) but wanted a visual to be absolutely positively certain. And sure enough, about 10 minutes later of me standing quite still, I had my visual ID of two Pine Siskins buzzing around the back of the yard amongst the Gold and House Finches.

Pine Siskins are a part of the Finch family; but we seldom see them in the Toronto area. I know little of these birds and have only had them one other winter season since doing the backyard bird feeding thing going almost a decade ago. They call it an "irruption" when they spread out this far and even further; flying in from the Boreal Forests. It's something about a mix between a population explosion and a shortage of food (little rain this past spring/summer and high heat to blame) in their more common areas. I also think they know when a bad winter is coming because the last time I saw them, that winter was a doozy, and we had a lot of snow.

So, while I am excited about their return and I do hope they hang around the yard for the season; I have my fears on old man winter getting nasty on us since the past one had so little snow. Really I don't mind the snow but the drive to and from work across that Hwy 401 is a scary one in bad weather. If I could stay home on such days, no problem.

Today I only saw two. My peak the last time this species was here brought 12 to 15 at a time and maybe more. They love nyjer seed much like the other Finches do, so I best be well stocked, and have extra feeders out. I do recall them enjoying the black oil sunflower also.

So, welcome back little Pine Siskins! May you enjoy your stay on Bernice Crescent!

The Pine Siskin is the bird on the top left perch of this feeder. They have some similar markings on their backside much like the American Goldfinch with the yellow wing bars but are very streaky and much more brown with little yellow tints as you can see in this photo (sides and tail).

November 9, 2010

The National Bird of Canada would be?

This topic has been floating around a good part of this year... Canada should have a national bird and what should it be?

The Canadian Raptor Conservancy started a petition back in the summer and are trying to collect 200,000 signatures to present to the government on this subject.

Here are our provincial birds along with some other countries national birds...

- Common Loon : provincial bird of Ontario
- Snowy Owl : provincial bird of Quebec
- Great Horned Owl : provincial bird of Alberta
- Great Grey Owl : provincial bird of Manitoba
- Steller’s Jay : provincial bird of British Columbia
- Black-capped Chickadee : provincial bird of New Brunswick
- Atlantic Puffin : provincial bird of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Osprey : provincial bird of Nova Scotia
- Blue Jay : provincial bird of Prince Edward Island
- Sharp-tailed Grouse : provincial bird of Saskatchewan
- Gyr Falcon : territorial bird of the Northwest Territories
- Rock Ptarmigan : territorial bird of Nunavut
- Common Raven : territorial bird of Yukon
- Bald Eagle : national bird of the United States of America
- Golden Eagle : national bird of Russia
- Crested Caracara : national bird of Mexico

So, trying to exclude those choices above; what do you think would be a great choice for Canada as a whole? Suggestions so far include the Red Tailed Hawk, the Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Common Loon, Short Beaked Crow, Rock Dove (common Pigeon), Great Blue Heron, Snow Goose, Snowy Owl, and the Grey Jay (Whiskey Jack).

I would rule out Common Loon and Snowy Owl immediately as they are provincial birds for Ontario and Quebec already. I won't even get into the whole Harry Potter craze and how his Owl is a Snowy Owl bit.

Whoever suggested the Rock Dove (common Pigeon) must have been kidding. I mean seriously. Nothing against Pigeons, they are a source of entertainment in city parks but not much more than that. They are everywhere, and no offence to Pigeon admirers out there... but they are a nuisance overall. I don't categorize Mourning Doves in the same class as a Pigeon; but even a Mourning Dove would not make my list of the possible National Bird of Canada. Gentle and peaceful creatures as they may be, much like Canadians in general; they don't seem like a bird to represent a country.

The Snow Goose would also be cut from my list. It's bad enough how much of our southern friends have this idea about Canada as it is... throwing the Snow Goose as our National Bird would just add to the stereotype of Canada being a snow and ice covered land, and a place not to venture to unless one wishes to freeze to death, stay in an igloo and possibly get eaten by a Polar Bear.

The Short-Beaked Crow could be a possibility. It is a highly intelligent creature. It's brain size to body size is one of the largest in the world of birds. We'd like to think of ourselves as an intelligent bunch. Would the superstitious approve? I don't know how many times in my life I have heard someone tell me they have seen the presence of a Crow and a loved one (family or friend) soon dies.

Now, how about the Great Blue Heron? A majestic creature by all means. A rather prehistoric looking one as well (not that it matters). But, in my personal opinion, the Heron, to me, represents a water bird (Herons live by lakes and ponds). It would be more suited to be a provincial bird for one of our coastal provinces.

I would feel the same going for the Trumpeter Swan. A bird of water should not represent a land mass being Canada.

So, as the list winds down we have the Gray Jay as another possibility. It seems Gray Jays can be found in almost every province across Canada. I have never seen a Gray Jay. My problem with this choice is it's size. It's not a very large bird. Something to represent our country should be on the larger scale of a bird species. An ideal candidate to represent a province but not a country.

How about the Canada Goose? It's a large bird. Everybody knows what a Canada Goose is. Everybody must have seen one. Even our American friends know what a Canada Goose is. That Goose has Canada in it's name... it's perfect! I would agree with that choice, and I did, right up until some conversing with the fellow at the Canadian Raptor Conservancy. He sold me on eliminating this choice. Why? Well, what is the National Bird of the United States of America? The Bald Eagle. Do you know what one of the main choices of diet be for the Bald Eagle? If you said "Canada Goose", you are most certainly correct. Do we really want our National Bird of Canada to be the one that the United States National Bird consumes on a regular basis? I don't think it's a matter of choice/preference for the Bald Eagle to pick on the Canada Goose... it's probably more due to the over abundance of Canada Geese available.

So, this leaves us with my last option that comes to mind. The Red Tailed Hawk. A larger scale of bird. It is a bird that is respected. It is a bird that can be found in every one of our provinces. It is a bird that has no natural enemies.

A graceful flying bird but one not to be messed with.

What do you think? I think this may very well be the perfect choice for our country.

For more information on this, simply Google the topic National Bird of Canada or visit the Canadian Raptor Conservancy's website here

Lastly, please note, I borrowed all images via Google. I do have pics of most of these birds noted that I have taken myself but are either just not clear enough or lost in the 1000's of images within the computer.

October 16, 2010

The Toronto Wildlife Centre Open House

This weekend, October 16 and 17, the Toronto Wildlife Centre is holding an Open House. It is from 9am to 6pm.

I've been to the centre a number of times in the past few months. I took Bob the Pigeon in (see my August 2 and 14 blogs). I borrowed a Squirrel cage in hopes to catch my little friend Jigger (see my August 30, 31 and September 8th blogs). And, the latest being that I brought in an unidentified Warbler that had flew into the side of my parents' house.

So, while Bob was kindly put to sleep. Jigger was never seen again and I assume passed on. The story of the Warbler had a much happier ending.

See, my dad had called me this one Sunday afternoon and told me of this pretty little bird who flew into the side of the house. It was so strange because there are no windows on this side of the house. I figure something bigger was chasing him and in a split second the Warbler did a quick turn, but unfortunately collided with the wall and not made it around the house. My dad said he was going to leave the bird because at first he thought it was just a plain House Sparrow. As he picked up the bird, noticing the light shades of blue and green about it, he knew it was special and called me.

I was quite unwell that day, having woke up with a head cold. But, when called upon for such things, I am there. The bird had been sitting on his porch for the past 75 minutes or so. When I got there, he was in a box with an open lid. And, still, just sitting there. I gently picked him up and he sat on my finger for some time. He was a bit wobbly but there was no sign of physical trauma.

Long story short, I took him up to the Toronto Wildlife Centre and turned him in. They are such wonderful people there and you can tell they care so much about the creatures that we share this city with. I had no idea of the Warbler's fate until a phone message a couple days ago. It was a lengthy detailed message explaining how he was examained, kept over night, given some anti-inflamatories as a precautionary measure, and the following day was taken down to the lake with some other releasable migratory birds and sent on his way.

A small bird who needed a small amount of care. Now, one day back in the spring, someone turned in over 90 migrants in one afternoon... all collected off the sidewalks in downtown Toronto... all in need of similar treatment, if not more. There is a group called FLAP who do this quite regularly. Unfortunately, thousands are found dead each year. The urge for the downtown area to turn off the lights at night is so important but so few understand or follow it. So, as hundreds of birds are brought in through a season, this adds up financially. Now throw in litters of baby Squirrels who lost their mother, baby Chipmunks, Raccoons, Skunks, and anything else wild, furry or feathered that needs help... it is important for us citizens of the GTA, who have a love for the wildlife around us, to help one way or another. Donations of money, or perhaps items such from their wishlist; and if willing and able, possibly your time.

I hope to be able to volunteer for the centre in the new year. I work similar hours to the centre which will be a problem. But perhaps the occasional Saturday or Sunday? One simply cannot just walk in and pick up a broom, change a water dish or answer the phone; there is a process. But, if I can help, I hope to do so.

This Open House will bring awareness to the people who come to see the centre and learn about the numbers of wildlife that come through. The latest bit I have read about is a Beaver that I think is still with the centre, brought in from the Muskoka area... it seems someone shot him in the head and his skull is full of buckshot.

I hope some of you out there will read this in time and make the trip. I know my blogs are so spread out now. Too many reasons why. I miss blogging. I have many stories and photos to share.

Here is the address to the Toronto Wildlife Centre... 60 Carl Hall Road, Downsview Airport at the south east corner of Keele and Sheppard. They are the second driveway on the left after the railroad tracks. It is very easy to find with that last bit of information which they gave to me prior to my first visit.

Regarding the Warbler. My first guess was a Pine Warbler. Some experts have told me it is a Blackpoll Warbler. The TWC are identifying it as a Chestnut Sided Warbler. I know my guess was close but not correct. So, it is between the other two species. Warblers, especially in the fall, can look so similar. There are such fine little details. Either way, I am happy to know this little guy is alive and heading to South America.

So, I am adding this next bit as I have just returned from the Open House. It's an Open House to enlighten the curious about what the TWC does. It starts with a 15 minute presentation. You then get a 30 minute tour of the facility; what goes on behind those doors, etc. You get to meet many of the staff. You see the hospital. You see some of the equipment used. I suppose I should add that you do not get to see very many of the visitors there (wildlife). Why? First and most importantly, they are wildlife, they need to remain wildlife. It is in their best interest and safety to not be accustomed to humans. If you have a small child who might get bored with all the talking, it is probably best to leave him/her at home or in the front area with one of it's parents. Screaming babies are stressful to the patients and people like me who want to see and learn about the Toronto Wildlife Centre.

September 17, 2010

Meet Quincy the Snowy Owl

The other weekend Angie and I were at one of our favorite conservation areas... Mountsberg. I believe I have blogged about it before and making mention of their Raptor Centre.

I thought on occasion I would talk about one of the Raptors I have gotten to know over there and share their tale.

So, today I have chosen Quincy the Snowy Owl.

Quincy is a female. I have chosen her first to blog about because her story sticks to my mind with some very sad visuals.

She was born in captivity and raised by humans. Where this happened would be the equivalent of a "puppy mill". I couldn't believe that such a place existed! In a small town far out of the GTA, there was a farm, and the people on that farm bred and raised birds of prey to be sold as exotic pets to those willing to pay the price.

Apparently this farm was more like a junk yard. Picture one of those creepy old dilapidated farm houses with nasty inbred looking people within. That is my visual, right out of one of my horror movies. These people had absolutely no regard for the birds they were raising and selling. I honestly feel that anybody who bought a bird from them has no regard either. Eagles, Hawks and Owls chained to the litter about the property (rusted cars, fence posts, etc). They were fed Canada Geese that the people went out and shot themselves. So, this sucked for the Geese of the area as well; but even more so for the birds who ate them. Why? Well, the bullets remained within the Geese, which were then devoured by the raptors, and thus were slowly poisoning them with lead. Many carcasses of the Geese lay rotting about the property as well.

I don't know how many raptors were on site at the time of the arrests. I don't know how many had to be put down due to illness.

Quincy was one of the lucky ones to make it out of there alive. Since she was captive bred and hand raised, she can never be released as she knows nothing on how to fend for herself in the wild. She does have a great home with amazing people who care for her at Mountsberg.

If you ever make it out to Mountsberg, please stop and give a moment to Quincy. She is the only female Snowy Owl at the centre so you can't miss her.

September 8, 2010

Jigger update and a question some may be asking...

So, after a few days of seeing Jigger hobbling about the backyard and taking in every bit of food offered to him; we finally went to The Toronto Wildlife Centre and picked up a Squirrel trap. They loaned it to us with a $20 deposit; this was on Sunday September the 5th. When we got home, Jigger was out back. We figured not to even try catching him since it was quite late in the day now. So, Jigger got a good feast of peanuts and away he went.

Now, it is the evening of the 8th and we have not seen him since.

A number of days ago I had hopes of catching him and getting him to the centre in order to be healed to good bouncy health again, with us then picking him up and bringing him home. After my last visit to the centre, I just had hope of getting him there and knowing where he was all the time and that one way or another, he would not be suffering... be it being safe, warm, fed and getting needed medical attention or if it were an injury beyond repair that he would be put out of suffering. I came to these thoughts as I said, after my last visit to the centre.

See, in our visit, with the centre looking up our file. Angie asked if there was any information on Bob. You all remember Bob don't you? And perhaps this is the question you may have asked in the last bit since reading my story about Bob... that being... well, what about Bob? What happened to him? A question that has sat at the back of my mind since the day we took him in. Unfortunately Bob's wound was beyond repair, being an old fracture of sorts, healing wrongly, leaving him forever unable to fly. Bob's return to the wild was never to be. Upon that analysis, Bob was kindly put to sleep. I use the "kindly" word as that is what the centre uses. And it is true. A simple needle putting the being quickly to sleep forever. Actually, I think it is two needles. The first puts one to sleep and the second is what stops the heart and ending it's life. A pain-free quick death.

So, in the end it was the best thing to happen to Bob. Since he had no where to go to live out his days only being able to flutter about and walk the Earth... a very bad thing for a bird in the city.

With this thinking in mind, I was even more ready to turn Jigger into the centre. As I said, my hope would be getting him healthy, but if it weren't to be, at least I know he'd have the same peaceful fate as Bob. Who knows where he is right now? Who knows if he is alive? I keep an eye out for him every afternoon when I get home from work until the sun goes down. I will continue to do so over the next few weeks. Every time I see a black Squirrel out back, I think it's Jiggs and am ready to spring into action. So far every time since this past Monday I have been wrong.

I have to end this with a reminder of why Jigger is getting all this fuss. He's been with us almost every day for about 4 years now. Every day I am outside, Jigger is around for much of it. I can honestly say I am outside just about every single day of the year, no matter the season, no matter the weather. Jigger is like a hyper little puppy. He's running and bouncing about, always around my feet, climbing my leg, my shoulder, the chair I sit on, whatever. He's touched my life, Angie's life, and most who have spent time in the back with him. While I have often called him "a royal pain in the a$$" as he constantly interrupts my garden duties climbing my legs trying to get the treats in my cargo pockets, digs up my freshly planted flowers and vegetables, knocks over my beverages, dirties the kitchen floor on rainy days with his muddy feet, gets me in trouble with the neighbours by burying peanuts in their flower beds, steals my chair when I get up and so on; he really never was that... but I couldn't rightly call him "a good boy" now could I?

August 31, 2010

An Un-Healthy Jigger Returns...

So, literally minutes after I posted my blog below... I step outside with Meadow to give her that afternoon walkabout of the yard; when who do I see way at the back? Jigger! This was totally unexpected but such a great surprise. I called for him, and while I don't think he really knows his name, he does know my (and Angie's) voices. He looked up and began to come towards me but I could tell something was not right with him. It seems one of his hind legs is injured, but to what degree I don't know. I handed him a peanut and he devoured it quick. He had trouble staying up on his back leg while he ate. One Pigeon sensing his weakness was waiting for a chance to knock the shelled peanuts from his clutches... of course that wasn't going to happen with us around. Another 7 roasted peanuts later and he was on his way. His walk away was difficult too and every 4 or 5 feet found him stretching out in the grass for a moment of rest.

Angie was with us. We had discussed catching him and taking him to the Toronto Wildlife Centre but it was close to 5pm at this point. The Wildlife Centre closes at 6pm which probably was ample travel time; but they ask that you speak with someone live first at the centre, so they know you are coming. The few times I have called, the machine picks up, I leave a message and within 30 minutes someone calls me back. I should mention, that by this time though, Jigger had climbed way up a tall tree to safety. He disappeared up in the leaves.

So, tomorrow is the mission to find Jigger again (hoping he's down at the back), catching him and taking him to the centre. If they can fix him up, he could come back home in due time. If there is that chance he is not able to be brought back to health, I understand he will be kindly put down. It would be a better death than at the claws of a certain feline in the area or some predator. I will post updates as they occur.

I will write about the Toronto Wildlife Centre one day soon. They took Bob the Pigeon in and promised to do the best they could for him. I never learned of his outcome. We did get a tour of the facility and learned quite a few things in our short visit. We left a small donation after taking Bob in. The Centre works via volunteers and donations.

So, if you have not read about Jigger and his disappearance, please go on to the next blog below and send him your best wishes on his return to good health soon.

Here's another nice pic of him with Angie...

August 30, 2010

Have You Seen This Squirrel?

Have you seen this Squirrel?

Many of you through my blog here, or via Facebook, and the few lucky ones to have met him in person know him as Jigger. He is one of the most personable Squirrels to visit my backyard. Why is he named Jigger? He did a little dance as he approached to take a peanut from our fingers back in his early days. No, not a cha-cha-cha or tango but this side to side shift as he moved cautiously towards the peanut in hand. Mind you, after a couple years of being with us, the dance disappeared and it was not uncommon for Jigger to jump into the lap of someone waving a peanut for him. I'd be digging in the garden and often Jigger would be climbing my cargo pants, trying to get into the pockets where I held the tasty treats for him. I never felt alone out back with Jigger around. Sure, there's always action with birds and Squirrels about, but Jigger sure added some excitement/entertainment.

I'd say it's been 2 weeks now since I've last seen him. This was his fourth year with us. How long do Squirrels live? Who really knows? Especially in the city. There are so many dangers for a Squirrel here.

He seemed in good bouncy health when we last met. It was raining heavily and I remember opening the backdoor to see him sitting there soaking wet. He stepped inside onto the mat, shook off the rain, took a couple peanuts from hand and off he went.

As the days passed, of course I began to wonder. A few incidents of late have left me wondering even more. One being that I have seen a Fox casually walking the sidewalk here at 11:30am last Sunday. I always thought Fox were more of a nocturnal creature and not keen on being around people. So to see one on this street is a first for me. I have seen them less than a kilometer from here, in the woods; but not here, around the homes and people. Squirrels can be a meal source for a Fox.

Another incident that I hate discussing is that a neighbour 3 houses over has this beast of a cat that runs free among the backyards and instinct gets the best of her often... we had a young Squirrel fall victim to this cat a couple weeks ago under the birdbath. Many times I have caught this cat hunting through the backyards and my super soaker comes in quite handy... but she still returns.

And lastly, a friend across the street recently informed me that some people over on her side have been poisoning the Squirrels. These people apparently work in this small factory behind the houses across the road. How true this is, I don't know. She was warned since she has a few cats of her own that she lets out. I don't agree with this. I don't understand this. Seriously! Some have talked about a decline in the Squirrels about the neighbourhood. I personally don't see this over on my side other than Jigger right now. It would be such an unfair end to his life. I think I should investigate this and blow the whistle on the individuals if it is true... it's cruel and it's against the law! This would have a large impact on the wildlife of the area! Not only does it harm the Squirrels but anything that happens to feed upon them... like the above mentioned Fox, Crows (since they can be carrion eaters), and Hawks who may choose to catch a slow moving (poisoned) Squirrel.

So, that's the one thing about befriending the wildlife around the 'hood. We get attached to them, they get names, they become our furry friends but in the end they still are wildlife and often we don't know what happens to them when they just don't come around anymore.

I've worried in the past about Jigger's comfortable habits with us and if he ever would be like that with other people in other backyards around here? An unsuspecting person would probably have some kind of freak. But, I'd like to think that he surely must recognize us and the offering of a peanut.

Unlike a human friend with an address and most times a telephone where we could call in to; this is not the case with a furry creature who bounces into the yard through the side gate and disappears to wherever via that same route.

I still hold out hope that perhaps I've just been missing him these days. Maybe he will return one day? Or I will eventually accept that he is truly gone.

A connection with any animal is an amazing thing and to bond with the wild ones is life changing with long lasting memories.

The newbies around lately are keeping me pretty busy. There's Scar, Charlie (who turns out to be Charlene), Nosey, Teddy, Starvin' Marvin and the return of Mr. Half-Tail who now has a full tail once again but his personality sure hasn't changed.

Here is Nosey...

One of the un-named young'uns checking out Meadow...

Another baby, and this photo makes me laugh every time... it's a little boy and I am wondering if he is curious about something down there (if you know what I mean)?

All I can say to finish this blog is that if Jigger is out there, I hope he's okay and comes home soon... we miss him.