The Gang’s All Here

The migrating birds have arrived: ruby-throated humming birds, orioles, gold finches and scarlet tanagers. Added to the resident bluebirds, cardinals, various woodpeckers and wrens, the array of colors and songs is almost too much. I am definitely bedazzled, sitting sometimes for over an hour entranced. A plumber came by to check out why the water pressure is so low at the kitchen sink. Seeing my four bird feeders, he enthusiastically told me about the pileated woodpeckers that come to his suet feeder, and then got a wistful look in his eyes as he stated that he’s amazed at the hours he can spend watching birds. Yes…

I haven’t seen any sign of the foxes for over a week, but the chipmunks running under my feet, around the corner and back to their borrow with cheeks full of birdseed that the birds spill out of the feeders keep me entertained while I type. I haven’t seen any sign of the groundhogs either, but the grass is so tall in the pasture, that I might not be able to see them when they come out to graze.

I have noticed some scat of a larger carnivore, three times in the past few days. Could it be a coyote? I looked up coyotes in PA and found an interesting article that claims there are coyotes in every county in the state; 30 thousand altogether! It also claimed that  11 thousand are killed each year by hunters! Who knew? The article also claimed that coyotes are very elusive and only come out at night.  It has freaked me out, just a little. One coyote wouldn’t be a problem, but what if there was a pack of them?!

Last night at 4:00 AM I was startled awake by a loud noise seeming to come from the porch. Sure that it was an animal, I grabbed the flashlight and crept down the stairs, heart racing. When I peered out the window from the dining room onto the porch, I couldn’t see anything. Then there was more crashing noises coming from over by the kitchen window. When I shined the light out that way, there it was, the masked thief- a large raccoon! It had rolled a large tin can (about 12″x12″) that was full of sunflower seeds and tightly lidded, out between the old well and the lilac, right where the hose is coiled and was trying to get it open! Ki disappeared before I could get to the door.

I knew there were raccoons around but had never seen one. Last summer, it seemed apparent that raccoons were enjoying our sweet corn (and leaving us a few ears), but we never saw them. Some friends had spent the night last May, during the time that we were trying to catch the groundhog who was eating everything but the tomatoes and corn. We had set a humane trap bated with an apple hoping to catch ki, but then left before our friends arrived to go in town. The next morning they reported that a juvenile raccoon had been caught and we asked them to set it free- which they did. It took me a while to get back to sleep afterwards, but some of that may have been the moon. though only 3/4 full it was so bright shining in onto my bed, that my hand held up made a definite shadow.


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