The arrival of winter weather back in December left me at a bit of a loss for awhile as to what my next expat-returned adventure should be. With snow and ice covering the roads and sidewalks and rendering the edges of the forest trail indistinguishable, I had no choice but to park my trusty, two-wheeled steed in the garage. The snows have come and gone since, but each time they melt they leave deeper mud mires where my paths through the woods used to be, and low points have been covered in a good six inches of standing water. However, even staying home is a bit of an adventure when you live so near the woods.
The backyard we jokingly call our wild kingdom is teeming with all kinds of furred and feathered creatures. Even with a chart of local birds on hand, I’m hard-pressed to identify all the kinds that come to our yard.
This blue jay is one of a bold pair that comes right up onto the porch to snatch peanuts from under the squirrels’ noses.
With their beautiful, bright blue plumage, who would ever guess they belong to the same family as the crow?
There are tiny birds with bright yellow feathers accented with black, which I’m pretty sure are finches. There is a large family of brown sparrows which has made its home in the birdhouse. There is a woodpecker with a head so red it looks like it’s been dipped in paint the color of a maraschino cherry. The mourning doves come in pairs to eat the seeds the others let fall from the feeder to the ground and squirrels and rabbits scatter when the shadow of a hawk or vulture passes across the grass.
One of our two wild rabbits. They rarely venture far from the protection of the backyard fence. (As you can see, this photo was taken a few months ago. I’m looking forward to seeing our bunnies return come springtime.)
The squirrels feel safe from birds of prey when perched in the branches of the trees (they’ve built a nest high on top of our pine)
Sitting on the fence to eat their breakfast…
…they’re sheltered from the hawks’ fast dives by the tree branches above .
The cardinals come in all seasons. I haven’t been able to get any photos of the female, but the male is bolder (and vain enough to stay relatively still long enough to have his portrait taken).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m looking forward to getting out into the woods as soon as the trails are open again. Meanwhile, however, it’s quite nice here by the fire, sipping a cup of hot cocoa and watching the wild kingdom in my backyard.
See you again soon and thanks for stopping by!
- For those of you who’d like to make a wild kingdom of your own, here’s a good article published last May about How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard (nature.org). It’s not too early to start planning! Spring’s on it’s way, after all…
- I’ve seen all three of these types of woodpeckers in my backyard, but so far they have been too quick and shy for me to photograph: Winter Feeder Birds: Indentifying Woodpeckers (donnallong.com)
See you next time!