Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Suburban Wildlife

I've always had resident squirrels, and I've been using hanging planter baskets with coco mats in them for at least four years.  I've had the squirrels sit in the baskets while eating and even plant nuts there in the fall.  This year, however, one of the squirrels decided to do something new.  Here is the before:

Still looking good for another year's use.  Here is the after:

As I stood wondering why the basket was swinging back and forth with no wind, I watched the squirrel return, jump in, rip out large chunks of matting, and scamper back up the tree with it.  She would leave each time with a ball of matting twice the size of her head.  I didn't have the heart to chase her away,  Nor, I suspect, would it have done any good.

This isn't the first time I have had the fortune of witnessing my wild neighbors at work.  I once made a birdbath using a three-foot high tree stump and a bowl molded from cement.  It looked so nice sitting in the middle of my yard.  In the spring the yellow tulips came up, and I watched a big rabbit daintily eat all the petals off--every single petal--leaving me with green spindles.  Each year, thereafter, the tulips heads would disappear shortly after arrival.  Then, in the summer of the third year, an amazing Pileated Woodpecker managed to decimate about a square foot patch of bark in the stump leaving three large, deep holes.  All that damage in about five minutes!

Well, I wanted to attract wildlife, and I did.  What luck to see each little beast at work!  I happened to be at the window just at the time to see the rabbit snacking that first year and the squirrel gathering nest material this year.  Catching the woodpecker at work was easier.  The noisy pounding was hard to miss.

I try to share the space with the critters when I can.  The bumble bee nest near the front porch last year was more difficult.  The nest was huge, and the females can sting.  I also don't like the carpenter ants eating my house and fence.  On the whole, though, getting to watch a little wildlife in suburbia is well worth the price.

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