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Thread: Backyard Wildlife

  1. #1171
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    We have a suet cage hanging from the crepe myrtle in the back yard. The other day I noticed a newcomer, a black and white, downy woodpecker feeding on the suet. A society finch landed on a branch of the tree and seemed to watch the woodpecker. Then the finch dived down toward the suet. (I've noticed finches feeding on it before.) It didn't land, just swooped by and back to the branch. It did this several more times, until the woodpecker - either full or annoyed - flew away.

    And so did the finch.

    It didn't want any suet. It just didn't want the woodpecker to have any.

    Finches can be real jerks.
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  2. #1172
    Here is a video of some ducks I saw the yesterday.
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  3. #1173
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    I saw a mama and a papa mallard in a neighbor's front yard this morning. There is a creek across the street with lots of slack water in which I have seen ducks frequently.

  4. #1174
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Finches can be real jerks.
    When I lived on the coast, my GF's house was at the top of a cliff overlooking the harbour. On the edge of the cliff were a few trees, and one morning while I was enjoying the view and a coffee, I noticed a bald eagle on one of the limbs in that spread wing posture they assume when they're drying off or perhaps thermoregulating. Two crows were mercilessly harassing the eagle, and this went on for about 20 minutes. I was amazed by the patience of the eagle. Then at last it flew off. A lone seagull happened to be flying by about halfway down to the water. The eagle dove towards the gull, which did some evasive maneuver, easily escaping, and then the eagle continued on its way across the harbour. I'm sure it was taking out its frustration on the gull.

  5. #1175
    Saw a wild goose today but I did not chase it.
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  6. #1176
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    My wife finally determined that it's our robin who wakes her up at 4:00am. I had no idea they were night birds.

    Took the dog for a walk through the park this morning. A small gray hawk swooped down near us, then arced back up and landed on a tree branch. It didn't catch anything. I looked around and saw a wide-eyed squirrel frozen still at the base of a pine.
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.
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  7. #1177
    The other day a woodpecker flew up to someones civic number (it is a metal plate with the house number on it they are used for every house in the province.) and started to peck at it and when I got my cell phone to get a video of it, the bird stopped.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
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  8. #1178
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    Last week I had a visit from the builder to discuss something on our new house and heard a raven croaking. We often hear those, but seldom see them. Then I looked down the way and said "Oh, maybe that's him down there on the tree!" I didn't have my distance glasses on, it was just a couple of bald eagles.

    A day or two later, it was an eagle on a utility pole next to the road, then yesterday there were two on a chimney at the lighthouse.

    It's quite lovely to live in a time and place where I can say "Oh, it's just an eagle."
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  9. #1179
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    Saw a wild goose today but I did not chase it.
    My parents' last dog did that, and found the futility, mostly by following them over an escarpment. The dog dropped ten feet into fairly deep water, but the geese flew away, no doubt giggling.

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  10. #1180
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    I did a quick motorbike ride out to the coast a few days ago to take advantage of the beautiful, sunny and warm weather we're having this week. On the second day I saw nine black bears foraging on the new growth beside the road.

  11. #1181
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    It's quite lovely to live in a time and place where I can say "Oh, it's just an eagle."
    They've been much more active here with the improving weather. Just last week, I saw a dozen or more in flight, all at once...appropriately...near the community of Eagle River.

    I don't get how ravens are heard but seldom seen in your area. Here, [they] walk and fly around like the own the place.
    Last edited by PetersCreek; 2018-May-15 at 07:02 PM. Reason: they
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  12. #1182
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    I don't get how ravens are heard but seldom seen in your area. Here, walk and fly around like the own the place.
    We don't have ravens around here, but we have crows (their smaller cousin) and that's one of the things I like about crows - that bold attitude that they run place.
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  13. #1183
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    We don't have ravens around here, but we have crows (their smaller cousin) and that's one of the things I like about crows - that bold attitude that they run place.
    I like that about them too. But I've noticed they show less of that attitude when they have a nest nearby. Last spring a pair built a nest in an aspen 15-20 m from my house. They were very quiet around my property and I never noticed them fly directly to the nest whenever they came back to it. Instead, they took a longer route the full length of the treed lot, as if to make it difficult for an observer to figure out where the nest was. Each spring they dig around in my eaves troughs pulling out the clods of aspen leaves that collected there the previous autumn. I noticed this morning that they'd done it again, with chunks of debris lying on the walkway below the gutters (which I'd cleaned yesterday!). I don't know if they are looking for insects amongst that stuff or using it to line a nest.

  14. #1184
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torsten View Post
    I like that about them too. But I've noticed they show less of that attitude when they have a nest nearby. Last spring a pair built a nest in an aspen 15-20 m from my house. They were very quiet around my property and I never noticed them fly directly to the nest whenever they came back to it. Instead, they took a longer route the full length of the treed lot, as if to make it difficult for an observer to figure out where the nest was. Each spring they dig around in my eaves troughs pulling out the clods of aspen leaves that collected there the previous autumn. I noticed this morning that they'd done it again, with chunks of debris lying on the walkway below the gutters (which I'd cleaned yesterday!). I don't know if they are looking for insects amongst that stuff or using it to line a nest.
    I'd pay the crows to clean my gutters - save me a lot of work.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  15. #1185
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    Our backyard has been in Ardnamurchan this week - a place with a good population of pine martens. My wife laid out pine marten bait - strawberry jam and raisins - while I set up a camera trap. No luck on the first day. But something came and ate the bait overnight, after I'd taken in the camera.
    Over the next three nights there ensued a three-way tussle between bait-eater, me, and the camera set-up. On our last night I at least solved the mystery of what was eating the bait - but the IR flash completely burned in the images. One more night and I'd have got the camera geometry right and produced some decent photos and videos. But here's what I got:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And the clean-up squad:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yes, you're right, the background view is different in the two images. The badger moved the camera.

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  16. #1186
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    Yesterday I heard a barred owl hooting at high noon, which according to my old Audubon's Bird Guide is not uncommon. It was in a densely wooded park about 1/4 mile from my house, so it may or may not have been the same one that has been in my back yard. As I write this I hear the hooting in what sounds like the same place as last time.

  17. #1187
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    During my commute this morning, I saw a rather stately looking cow moose (Alces alces gigas) with recently minted twin calves in tow. She was outside the military reservation and using the security fence as a reference, she looked to be at least 7 feet tall, overall. As I passed, a bicyclist was approaching on the nearby paved bike trail which would bring him within about 20 yards of them...and he had mamma's full, undivided attention. I checked my rear view mirror, half expecting to see a charge in progress but all was well.
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  18. #1188
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    Dr. Grant, while I'm sure nobody wants either variety dropped suddenly in their laps I've always found European badgers far less intimidating than North American badgers.

    Woof, and have I got some badger stories to tell!

    Sadly I'm a little energy deficient today and it will have to wait until later on this week.
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    (John, not the other one.)

  19. #1189
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    Two significant wildlife encounters on the way to the golf course yesterday. The first was tragic. An elk attempted to cross the busy highway between Bend and Redmond and didn't make it. A Volvo several cars in front of me smacked it hard, leaving the car damaged and the beast writhing in pain on its side. Hopefully, a sheriff's deputy or someone came by shortly after to put it out of its misery.

    The second was far more enjoyable. I've seen plenty of coyotes in my life - just about everywhere I've lived in the US. But until yesterday, I don't think I'd seen one in full gallop. Usually, they're standing still or, at best, trotting away. Yesterday, however, this guy flew across a different highway at what must have been full speed. Incredible. I knew coyotes could run fast but it's quite impressive to see in person.

  20. #1190
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    We have couple of bird-feeders outside our kitchen window. One of them also has a couple of hooks extending sideways from which you can hang food items. So at present we have a couple of lard balls containing seeds hanging out there, each of them suspended from a string. Mainly visited by tits and robins.
    So the relevant geometry is - vertical thin metal pole about three feet (one metre) high; at the top of that, transverse thin metal rod about a foot (30cm) long; at the free end of that, piece of string hanging down about eight inches (20cm) with ball of lard on the end.
    So I was a little surprised to enter the kitchen today and see a mouse sitting on top of the lard ball, nibbling furiously. Gad, they're nimble and resourceful little things. I stood and watched for a while, and then went to get a camera. Predictably, it was gone when I got back, so I never saw the dismount, either.

    Grant Hutchison
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  21. #1191
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    I've seen mice fall from a meter high and just scurry away, so the dismount was probably no problem. That of course leaves open the question as to how it got up there in the first place.
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  22. #1192
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I've seen mice fall from a meter high and just scurry away, so the dismount was probably no problem. That of course leaves open the question as to how it got up there in the first place.
    I'd have been very happy to see it make an elective sky-dive, but it would have been more interesting, if less spectacular, if it had retraced its outward route. A vertical metre on a thumb-thick smooth metal pole ...

    Grant Hutchison
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  23. #1193
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    Mice get everywhere!

    I used to set up a camp if I was doing field work in remote locations for an extended period. To prevent bears from getting at our food, we hoisted it up high off the ground in an open lattice-style plastic bin. And I mean high. We'd throw a block attached to a rope over a thick lower limb of a big old hemlock, at least 6 m off the ground, run a line that was connected to the bin through the block, and then retract and tie off the block just under the limb. Each morning the bin would be lowered to the ground and we'd prepare our breakfast and lunch for the day.

    One morning I noticed that one of the plastic bags with the fun lunchtime snacks in it had been chewed open by a rodent and some of the snacks had been nibbled. Gross! And I thought, "Man those mice are fast, the bin's barely been on the ground 10 minutes". The mess was cleaned up, but the scene repeated each of the next few mornings until I finally noticed that the snack bags had already been chewed open before the bin hit the ground. I'm not sure if the mice climbed the tree, ran down the limb, and then down the rope to the bin, or if they ran up the heavy rope from which the block hung and which was tied off to another tree near the ground. We didn't expect a bear to figure out how to get at the bin, but the mice did!

  24. #1194
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    I have to ask. There is a bird nest on the outside wall underneath the overhang of the roof. As far as I can tell, the loft is unaffected. Is this a threat in any way other than poop on the path below? Is there a risk of birds making their way through the brickwork into the loft?

  25. #1195
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    I have to ask. There is a bird nest on the outside wall underneath the overhang of the roof. As far as I can tell, the loft is unaffected. Is this a threat in any way other than poop on the path below? Is there a risk of birds making their way through the brickwork into the loft?
    You'd need some pretty rotten brickwork, or a hole in the soffitt. Some birds (but more often bats) will exploit holes like that to get inside, but they won't gnaw their way through intact structure, like a mouse would.

    (And if the nest is already built, they're vanishingly unlikely to stray into the roof space. Their only reason to enter would be to build a nest.)

    Grant Hutchison
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  26. #1196
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    You'd need some pretty rotten brickwork, or a hole in the soffitt. Some birds (but more often bats) will exploit holes like that to get inside, but they won't gnaw their way through intact structure, like a mouse would.

    (And if the nest is already built, they're vanishingly unlikely to stray into the roof space. Their only reason to enter would be to build a nest.)

    Grant Hutchison
    Well if I have rotten brickwork, then I'm going to the builder with some queries about the quality of ten month old bricks.

    I'll get it removed this winter once it becomes legal to do it. They were so cute last summer, but I didn't really think about them coming back the next year, particularly when the nest looked half collapsed.

    But as long as they stay outside, that's okay. Though they do make a mess.

  27. #1197
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    I was walking the dog a couple of days ago - at the same park I lost my keys - when I saw a Quenda (southern brown bandicoot) very calmly sitting on the grass.They look a bit like giant brown rats but are of course marsupials and like to eat fungi. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-1...ckyard/8816348

  28. #1198
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    Our homeowners association is sponsoring a presentation Friday evening called "Cougars, Coyotes, and Bears". Because they are all around us. I think we'll go.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  29. #1199
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Our homeowners association is sponsoring a presentation Friday evening called "Cougars, Coyotes, and Bears". Because they are all around us. I think we'll go.
    Whoever was in charge of naming that presentation should be fired. It should've been called "Cougars, Coyotes, and Bears, Oh My."
    Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

  30. #1200
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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    Two significant wildlife encounters on the way to the golf course yesterday. The first was tragic. An elk attempted to cross the busy highway between Bend and Redmond and didn't make it. A Volvo several cars in front of me smacked it hard, leaving the car damaged and the beast writhing in pain on its side. Hopefully, a sheriff's deputy or someone came by shortly after to put it out of its misery.

    The second was far more enjoyable. I've seen plenty of coyotes in my life - just about everywhere I've lived in the US. But until yesterday, I don't think I'd seen one in full gallop. Usually, they're standing still or, at best, trotting away. Yesterday, however, this guy flew across a different highway at what must have been full speed. Incredible. I knew coyotes could run fast but it's quite impressive to see in person.
    That mishap with the elk reminded me of two close encounters with domestic cattle on consecutive days during a family vacation when I was a kid. The first one was in the green high country between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, Arizona, when we went by a car with its front end damaged and a calf lying in front of it. The calf was squirming and obviously in distress. The next day, on the road from Zion National Park to Las Vegas, my mother had to hit the brakes hard to avoid hitting a dairy cow that ran onto the road. A herdsman with a lasso was chasing the cow on foot. The nearest town was Hurricane, Utah. A couple of weeks later, on a desolate road across central Nevada, it was not reassuring to see signs advising motorists to be alert for free ranging cattle. That was on Friday the 13th, but nothing happened.

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