Animals in Missouri


[ Birthday cards ]

July 26 – As I sit here at the computer today, I’m going to try to catch up on a number of notes I have made, notes that might develop into something of interest to those who read our blog from time to time. I did have a real reason for not writing as often as I usually did, though.

I am still trying to catch up on my plan to thank by name, everyone who sent greetings via e-mail or card for my 90th birthday! When they are done, I am going, with David’s help, to print up the notes and keep them in a special place in my heart and in a box of special cards. What a treasure I will have to enjoy from time to time.


[ Boss turkey ]

So here goes. I don’t even know where to start, so I’m just going through my list of short sentences that will remind me of the subject. We have seen a number of animals move around in our back property as we sit on the tailgate of the truck, resting up a bit before tackling another job. Last year we saw a turkey family, obviously led by the boss of the show. This year that big boss, if it is still the same one, comes to check out the area all by himself. Sometimes when we look out our kitchen window, we see him moseying around trying to find a good bite to eat.


[ Thieving squirrel! ]

Not as easy this time of year, because we don’t put bird food out until the cold weather arrives, figuring the birds can fend for themselves out in the woods. The main reason for the change, though, is the fact that the squirrels by the dozens raid the area in the late fall and winter, eating all they can and then filling out their cheeks to take more food back to bury near the trees in which they live. Yes, they are “cute” and energetic, and enjoy scooting around the big elm tree in the front yard, with a fellow playmate on his tail!

A few nights ago we were sitting quietly on the front porch enjoying the sights and sounds of early evening. “Look at that!” Dale called. “Do you see what I see?” “Hey, that’s pretty neat,” I answered as I pointed to four deer making their way across the pasture. Usually, their trips across the fields take place in the morning, but not this time. The lightning bugs were scooting here and there and everywhere as was their custom at this time of year. Flashes of bright light kept us looking for them as they moved so quickly around the yard, with their typical firefly behavior.

That reminds me of something I haven’t heard about in a long, long time. About fifty years ago while I was still teaching in Pennsylvania, we were having a teachers’ convention in a small town in New York. Sitting outside one night, we were treated to a real display by the lightning bugs, and I asked the two delegates from California if their fireflies looked like ours in the East. “No, they sure don’t,” said one. “In fact, I’m thinking of taking a jarful back home with me to show to the school kids!”

Since then, I have found that there really are fireflies or lightning bugs in Southern California. Their kind would not enjoy living here in MO or even farther east. They want to be where there is more rain since that’s where snails, their favorite food, live. You can find them then where there are springs and streams. They don’t stay around except in the summer months, but ours don’t either.


[ Field where we see coyotes and deer ]

As usual, we could hear the scary calling of the coyotes across the way. Others call from the woods behind the house. Their high-pitched scream can easily be heard, especially in the evening after we have gone to bed. Just the other day we saw a mother coyote and her young one traveling slowly across the field beyond the fence. Maybe the mother saw us, for she scooted under the fence, and quickly made her way to the nearby woods. But the brave young one continued on his way, slowly walking past us to show he wasn’t afraid, and then finally going under the fence to join his mother in the woods.

Have you ever talked to owls that are passing the night out in the woods? I have, and I know Dale thinks I’m at least partly crazy, but I have a lot of fun doing that! Every night about ten or eleven, I hear the “Whoo, whoo, whoo” of the owl.

Before I started answering that bird, I didn’t try to join in his conversation, because I never even thought it might return my greeting! I was wrong! Standing inside at the window, I hear that “Whoo” and send out my greeting to him. “Whoo, whoo, whoo,” not exactly as he called, but enough that he gets the point. At first, weeks ago, he was satisfied with the three “Whoo” calling, but now he has added another. First come three “whoos,” before he adds the last part of the greeting. The three “whoos” are now followed by a descending “ahhhh.” Sounds like the Great Horned Owl to me. He will just have to excuse my calls, as they don’t sound like the Great Horned does, but I’m not an owl, you know! – CHRIS

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