Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Fox Squirrel’

This is mostly about wildlife in the backyard, but there might be some mechanical devices involved as well.

Today was a good day, mostly pain-free and very lazy. I am considering the comments made on my last post very seriously, but I have other things to do before I go asking a doctor for a dx of fibromyalgia. I do take it seriously: three friends in one week said the same thing after I whined to them about how I was feeling. I just hadn’t seriously considered it before because… well, I never thought my symptoms matched up properly.

But that isn’t what I wanted to write about tonight. We have a backyard full of wild creatures and I would love to share them with you, my small following of friends and family.

Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of everything.

For instance, a couple weeks ago my husband called me at 6:30AM. “Is the opossum still there?”

Um. What opossum would that be?

My husband lets his dog out very early in the morning, like about 4:30AM. And on this particular morning, Murphy proudly carried a dead opossum to the back door. Don chased him down in the yard and made him leave the poor body out in front of the shed. And now, at 6:30AM when it was light out, he wanted me to go out and see if the opossum was truly dead.

I assured him there was no body in the back yard.

Dumb dog! The opossum went into a stupor and “played” dead, and Murphy thought he had a prize. I’m sure it was very relieved to wake up from it’s self-induced coma to find it was still alive, and it made it out of the yard post-haste.

Last Monday, Don let his dog out at 4:30AM. And there was a terrible ruckus in the back corner of the yard, with barking and growling and scuffling. I woke up and held my breath, waiting to hear a cat scream. No cat. Whatever it was, it fought back and held Murphy at bay before it jumped onto the compost bin and over the 6′ bamboo screen, onto the neighbor’s little tin shed.

I moved all the hazelnut mulch bags into the backyard and stacked them onto the back stoop until I can find time to spread the nuts. I did this because something moved the bags around in the driveway and attempted to chew through thee plastic fiber.

Last week, I stepped out the back door in the early morning to discover the bags that were still unopened had been rearranged on the back stoop.

The critter left his mark.

Pretty certain that is the same critter that Murphy tangled with a few mornings earlier. I’d just spread hazelnuts over the flower beds in the back corner. Apparently we have a neighboring raccoon who is fond of filberts.

Darn thing also dug up my freshly planted mums and killed them. Guess it was also hunting grubs??

Today, I lazed around. I pulled out the lawn chair, set my camera on the bench beside me with a glass of ice water for refreshment, and opened the last book in the Cornelia Funke series I have been reading (Inkheart, Inkspell & Inkdeath). I kept one eye on the new birdbath.

I purchased the salad bowl at Goodwill and filled it with water. The stand is one I bought at a yard sale not too long ago. I also added a “bubbler” to make the water move and I have since moved the entire set-up to a different location. It has taken the small birds about a month to discover it, but now that they have – they love it.

But before I spotted any birds in the birdbath, there was a chattering and commotion in the hazelnut tree that my husband has allowed to grow wild along the back fence. It’s in a part of the yard where we have done no landscaping. Neglected, wild, and overgrown. And now there was a squirrel chattering back there, presumably at Harvey as he wandered the perimeter of the yard.

Harvey is hunting cats and doesn’t care about squirrels.

Harvey is not especially bright and he’s on a mission to get out of our yard to hunt cats.

I grabbed my camera and headed to the wild side of the yard.

The squirrel was upset with this large blue bird, not Harvey. The Steller’s Jay was working the hazelnut tree over.

Steller’s Jays are harder to capture than scrubjays. They aren’t as gregarious. But they are one of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen. I think they are prettier than the Eastern Bluejay.

The squirrel is a young Eastern Fox squirrel that only recently started coming over to our bird feeder. It seems he (or she) has also discovered the wild hazelnut in back.

The birdbath didn’t disappoint me. You can see the bubbler in the middle of the bowl there: it’s powered by two “D” batteries and just spins, making the water move. I was worried that it would put off the little birds, but this red-breasted nuthatch doesn’t seem to be bothered by it.

The Black-capped Chickadee was more worried about me and I was sitting 20 feet away.

We live along the Pacific Flyway, the major north-south migration route for thousands of birds annually. Our back yard is also on the flight path for airliners coming from the south, headed for PDX. We are also relatively close to several small airports and since we sit on the bluff over the Willamette River, we have some great thermals overhead. Small aircraft often buzz the house in the summer months.

Today, we were buzzed by three Vintage WWII airplanes. They’re noisy, but they don’t leave large bird droppings like the occasional Turkey Vultures that gets lost on the thermals overhead do.

The chickadee started to warm up to my presence. Or maybe this is a different bird.

The sun was dropping low and the shadows were getting long when I decided it was time to come in and fix dinner for my husband. But I couldn’t resist the squash bug. Pestilence.


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I left my camera at home today. And, of course, something exciting happened: we had goslings among our local geese! And no photo.

Note to self: ALWAYS take the camera to work!

But here is today’s photo of the day:

No, I didn’t paint that. It was another little artist. I merely paid for it at the Oak Lodge Garden Club plant sale, along with the other items I picked up there. I forgot to include it in that blog because it was swallowed up in the depths of my purse.

But that’s all right, because it gets to shine in its own little blog, a blog just about western gray squirrels (and the aforementioned goslings – but they don’t count because I had no camera).

I’m blogging about the western gray squirrel today because the Squirrel Matron was back. And I feel rather stupid.

There were two squirrels out in the yard: a big old Eastern Fox Squirrel in the bird feeder and the gray one down on the ground. Because I could see both squirrels at the same time, it dawned on me that the gray squirrel didn’t actually look much like the one in the bird feeder, and it wasn’t just the gray fur. It was smaller and had finer features, and it’s belly was white instead of ruddy.

And the light came on (I’m slow, I tell you a truth): the gray squirrel wasn’t an old Eastern Fox Squirrel! It’s a native Western Gray Squirrel!

Here’s a little story: the Western Gray is considered threatened in some parts of the west. There have been several theories, and one includes the invasion of the larger, more aggressive and congenial Eastern Fox Squirrel. The new comer pushed the native squirrel out of its habitat.

And, in truth, it is rare to see a Western Gray around the Portland metro area. They’re here, but they’ve been pushed into the suburbs and woodlands.

As that little bit of truth came to light in my brain, the gray squirrel gave up her search for seeds on the ground and went up to the bird feeder. There she touched noses with the Eastern Fox Squirrel. I thought there might be a battle for supremacy or ownership of the feeder, so I grabbed my camera and hurried out the door.

The Eastern Fox took off like a bolt of lightning and the Western Gray sat up on the limb scolding me.

I think she was saying, “How could you mistake me for one of those big louts!? And how dare you think they intimidate me!”

I’m really pleased to know that we have a Western Gray Squirrel coming to our bird feeder. Now I know why I don’t chase squirrels out of there.

We’re just doing our part to keep the wildlife native.

(OK, so I don’t chase out the invaders, either. There’s enough food for squirrels and birds.)

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