Archive for Thursday, February 3, 2011

Problematic creatures

February 3, 2011

Every once in a while someone points out how lucky we are to live at the edge of town with woods in the background.

“It must be wonderful living there and enjoying the wildlife,” is something I have heard dozens of times.

The answer is sometimes it’s wonderful, but certainly far from always. The little forest creatures can be a problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy watching the birds as they flock to our feeders. It is a great diversion during a snow storm. Then during summer months, I am fascinated watching a variety of birds frolicking in our birdbath. Of course, I like seeing how hard they work building nests. In short, birds are fun to watch.

There have been a couple of birds that tried my patience. We had a stupid robin that kept flying into a closed window. I even tried putting a rubber snake on the sill to scare the bird off. Well, that didn’t work and one day the bird flew head-on and hit the window, killing itself. We also have been plagued by a woodpecker, who thinks the siding on the house is a tree. I’ve thrown rocks at him as he continues pecking holes, but he always flies back. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him since it became frigid. Maybe he didn’t survive the cold weather.

I really don’t mind squirrels all that much. I am amazed at how they jump from limb to limb. They really seem to make the improbable look simple. About my only argument with the squirrels is that they knock over the bird feeders. Sometimes their antics do provide some entertainment.

Of course, the deer are a real problem. An avid gardener such as my wife sees flowers as objects of beauty. Deer, on the other hand, see flowers as a delightful meal. We have tried many ideas about keeping the deer at bay, but nothing has worked. The only success we have had is putting up a temporary fence around trees and flowers. Yes, we had to fence in our garden, too. The deer are so tame they actually don’t run off when we shout at them. I know that I have a brother-in-law, son-in-law and two grandsons who are avid hunters and they would like to be able to hunt in our backyard.

The biggest problem now is an opossum who thinks he is a pet. If the garage door is left open for a couple of minutes, he lumbers in. Last week Jean noted “strange” deposits on the garage floor around the large bag of sunflower seed that she uses to feed the cardinals. She looked inside and was shocked to find an opossum curled up inside enjoying a winter’s nap in the perfect surrounding. After all, does it get any better than sleeping in a warm garage surrounded by an ample supply of food?

He wasn’t thrilled about having to go back out to the cold and snow. He played dead but when he was threatened with a shovel, he begrudgingly left. However, he lurks outside and hopes we let our guard down.

I decided to do a little research on our “would-be” pet. I really didn’t know opossums were marsupials just the same as kangaroos. Yes, they carry their young in a pouch. They have one of the shortest lifespans of any animal of their size, normally two to four years. They are very slow moving and may be an easy target for predators.

One source said the opossum was native to the eastern portion of the United States and may have been introduced to the Midwest during the Depression as a source of food.

As far as I’m concerned, a pest is a pest by any name and when spring comes, I plan to borrow a trap and see if I can lure the varmint in. If I do, I hope to be able to relocate him to a rural area such as Camp Naish. My guess is there will be another pest in the wings waiting to make my life miserable.

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