The Natural Zoo – Part II


This is one unhappy turtle!

This is one unhappy turtle!

May 30 – We have always been interested in animals, birds, bugs, and whatever else is alive and well as we see them from day to day. A number of those experiences come to mind as I think over the last few days or weeks. Just this week I found a turtle moseying around in the strawberry patch, probably the same one I saw a week ago looking for some of the first fruits of the season. At that time I stood in front of him when he tried to move to get out from under my surveillance, and when he moved in the opposite direction, I moved as well, right in front of him again. As he moved down the patch towards the fence, so did I. Finally, he moved under the wire, probably on his way to greener pastures.

If you've ever wondered what the bottom of a snapper looks like...

If you’ve ever wondered what the bottom of a snapper looks like…

Reaching under the fence, I picked him up and brought him back to the patch of strawberries. Standing back away from him, that time, I watched as he sampled a berry or two, and then went back to disappear under the fence and into the taller grass. Many times as we have been driving along our country roads, we have spotted turtles, some beautiful, others just plain, but we always stop to pick them up and deposit them on the floor in the back of the car. When we get home, Dale carries the turtle across the creek to the pasture or behind the garden area,where that rescued animal finds a safer home. Probably the scariest turtle is the snapper, an ugly thing, but with a right to live among us. How well I remember our Dawg a year or two ago as she tried to show who was boss when one of those snappers stood in front of her.

Turkey in the back field

Turkey in the back field

We have had several turkeys right beyond the house and the pond awhile ago. It is becoming routine for us to see the family, but not the big turkey boss. After several visits to our bird feeder, they continue to investigate the area, walking around through the fruit trees, and sometimes across the road to the neighbor’s pasture. One day a big black crow decided to stop in for breakfast, but he didn’t stay long as that turkey family made it clear that he was not welcome! Don’t know why the crows, three of them, come to the area around the artichoke and asparagus, but they must find something good (to them) because they arrive daily.

The humming birds are back at the feeder (we did have two feeders at the beginning of May, but after losing a lot of sugar water from one of them that Dale bought for a dollar at the thrift store, he found that it was leaking; no wonder somebody took it to the thrift store!), enjoying the sugary liquid for a good bit of the day. Yesterday when I was working in the peony area, one of those hummers continued to drink from the mock orange flowers, all the while with its wings a blur.

One sassy squirrel

One sassy squirrel

The squirrel population has increased, not only in number, but in kind. First year we have ever had the small gray squirrel, but there isn’t any dispute between the brown and this gray. No wonder the feed store gets so much of our business. We planned at first to give sunflower seeds and millet to the birds, but since those squirrels have taken over, the birds have to fight to find any. Fortunately, the squirrels usually are content to get their cheeks full of food on the ground, while the birds feel at home in the feeder box as well.

This morning as I looked out the window, I could see two squirrels having such a good time flying around the trunk of the walnut tree. (No, we really don’t have any flying squirrels here, but they were rushing around so fast, it almost looked as if they were flying!) They were having such a good time and able to stay rooted to the tree trunk instead of flying off into space, that I couldn’t help but laugh. Just saw one rush over to the maple tree, lodge itself between a V in the branches, and then continue on with the seeds he had stashed in his mouth before flying up into the tree. They are doing a pretty good clean-up job on the driveway picking up the maple keys that are covering the cement. As we walk around the yard and trails we find holes everywhere, holes where the squirrels have buried something they can eat later on.

Not a  real fox OR a cat!

Not a real fox OR a cat!

Sometimes,we see foxes in the fields or walking along the side of the road. Very pretty animals. Last week as Dale was driving, we both saw the typical reddish brown coloring of a fox, so I asked Dale to stop so I could check it out and maybe get a picture of it. Making my way through a deep ditch and then tall grass, I looked for the fox. Hmmm. Finally saw it almost hidden in the grass, hidden that is, except for its head. Fox? No. A big scared kitty cat, the right color for a fox, but with not exactly the right face! Probably the last fox with a cat face that we will ever see!

For some reason or other, our bluebird pair has disappeared. How disappointed we were since we had watched them for so many days as they were making their home in the bird box just outside the window. We did notice that there was some altercation between them and the sparrow pair who had probably decided to nest there as other sparrows had done in years past. We saw the bluebird male as he had dive-bombed those sparrows several times, when they landed on the branches above the box. We still have blue birds nesting in other boxes, but much farther away from the windows. Our red plastic container of sugar water that usually draws the Baltimore oriole has still not had a visitor, except that the woodpecker and squirrels choose that for dessert from time to time. Don’t know what has made the difference this year. Usually we have quite a big number of those orange and black birds enjoying the nectar.

Just as I decided this was it for this time, I looked out the window and saw that same big black crow just beyond the bird feeder finding something to eat. Not a chance of that right then, because suddenly the pair of mocking birds appeared and started to make life miserable for the bigger bird. Back and forth, up and down, wherever the crow was, there also were those birds. Finally the crow disappeared, and the mocking birds could go back home. – CHRIS

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