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Wildlife in my Yard

April 24, 2016

Spring is finally here, although not quite.  The snow has all gone.  We’ve had a few warm days, along with many chilly ones.  My maple, oak, and elm trees still have bare branches.  They look dead, but they are just patiently waiting for warmer weather.  Some of them do have buds on them, where leaves will soon appear.  At least my spruces and cedars are all green.

For the first time since winter, I’ve been seeing some new wildlife in my yard.  They aren’t around every day.  They aren’t around all day, either.  You have to keep a sharp eye on the yard to see them.  Newly-arrived birds seem to gather in the city before they disperse to the surrounding countryside.  Squirrels, of course have been around all winter.  They’ve been feasting on a heavy crop of acorns from my two oak trees.  Last fall, acorns rained down, covering the ground beneath the trees.  I’ve raked them a couple of times, but there are still plenty left.  In the winter, the squirrels dug tunnels under the snow to eat acorns.  They’re still scampering around the yards.

Last week, I noticed a Crow in the middle of my back yard.  It had something light-coloured in its beak.  It dropped it on the grass, pecked at it once or twice, and then picked up leaves from nearby and put them on top of the food.  Once it was satisfied that the food was well hidden, it flew away and disappeared.  Indeed, it was well hidden.  When I crossed the back yard later that day, I couldn’t see any sign of it.

Later, I noticed a flock of Juncos in the back yard, moving across the yard and pecking at the ground.  There were a few Chickadees with them, and one Flicker, all on the ground.  I know the Chickadees eat seeds.  Maybe all the weeds in my lawn had produced some seeds.  The Flicker is an insect-eater.  There can’t be many there, except for ants.  I had to look up the Juncos to find out what they ate.  Both seeds and insects, I found out.

In the evening, when the shadows were long and light was fading, I noticed two rabbits in the back yard, nibbling on the grass.  Maybe they were nibbling on the weeds.  That would be better.  It’s amazing how a rabbit can disappear into the background as soon as it stops moving.  One of the rabbits hides under a cedar in the front yard, facing outwards to keep watch for people or dogs getting too close.

This week, I saw a bird that I can’t identify, but one that I’ve seen before.  It’s larger than a Junco and has a speckled breast.  Usually, there’s a flock of them in the spring.  They move through the yard and them disappear.  They clean out my eve troughs, flinging leaves in all directions.  This time, there was only one, flinging leaves from the gap at the bottom of my garage door.  Maybe more of them will show up later.

Yesterday, I saw a head go past my basement window.  I was amazed.  I stopped what I was doing, and ran to the window.  It was a duck, a male mallard, walking up my driveway.  I watched it turn around and nestle down in my neighbor’s garden.  Then I saw it walking across the street.  There’s a pond there in the school grounds, left by a heavy rain a few days before.  When I looked next, there were two ducks in the pond, one dabbling.  There couldn’t be anything for ducks to eat there.  Next time I looked, they were gone.

Without even having to travel, I found a whole variety wildlife in my own yard.  I have a small urban lot, although it is in an old area with plenty of trees.  I’m impressed!  It does take a bit of patience to see such things, but it’s certainly worth the wait.


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