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I’ll take another helping of the stew, please! – by Teddy
We live in the Kansas City, M0 area. That’s one of the reasons I feel…guilt? responsibility?…to help out the critters if I can. This was beautiful rural/semi-rural land when we moved in, and the building just hasn’t stopped! I used to be able to see the horses and a field of cows, a silo and some barns out among the fields. There is nowhere left natural for the ones who were here first to move onto.

There is one bit of acreage about 1/4 mi. from our home, where the bend of a very small creek goes through; I think that must be where our wildlife lives. We’ve seen some cool things, even here in what is now suburbia. There’s a little stand of trees about 20′ by 30′ that is a “no man’s land” everyone uses to dump small yard debris (a stick pile, basically); a second one has begun now, too, and it is a haven for the possums and raccoons, but especially for the birds. Oddly, we don’t have squirrels and only once in a blue moon will we see a family of rabbits start in the spring; I know we have hawks, so maybe that’s why. We’ve had to pull our bird feeders in a few times to keep them from becoming “lunch counters” for the predators. I know there are deer, because they eat our Asian pears and apples (usually the day before we think we’ll start picking!), and I’ve never seen or heard a fox or coyotes, which we had plenty of farther north, where we used to live.

I’m not afraid of ‘possums at all…they have always seemed more willing to give up than to fight, and would rather go with a peaceable option than put up a struggle. We used to get them in the chicken house, and the neighbors were horrified (THEY were supposedly country folk, not me!)…not ‘knowing any better’, I just used a broom to shoo them away. The most they ever did was bare their teeth, hiss, and drool at me. They never even played possum! 🙂 All they have to do is show those teeth to get all the respect they need, LOL. Wow, what a row of chompers!

For food, we usually put out dog food and anything that is left over (but that usually ends up in the compost pile, as we are mostly vegetarian; and unless there’s butter on it, neither the raccoons nor ‘possums will touch a veggie, LOL. I was surprised, especially because the ones at my mom’s will eat ANYTHING — including the foam containers meat comes displayed in, if she leaves it out. They eat spaghetti with sauce, potato peelings, apple peelings, green beans (with onions!!)…things mine won’t touch. Maybe they have lots of sources of food here? Or I’ve “spoiled” them? I supplement, especially in cold weather, with whole wheat bread (they don’t like white bread, either, LOL) dipped in margarine, butter, or oil. Sometimes I just pour oil over the dog food, and I put out any bits of cake, pie, things like that if we have any left over. If I put out cat food, I’ve seen the outdoor guys go from plate to plate till they find it! Oh, and they don’t like fruit, either!! I had some raspberry jelly out and they ate a little, but not like I thought they would have.

I know a store that sells meat, especially chicken, for cheap cheap cheap on the day it expires, so sometimes I’ll go down there and throw everything in one pot and stew it, and put it out on top of the dog food. I’ve been going with the gut feeling that anything with protein or fat would be good for them, but I also figured some sweets for quick energy would be snapped up, too, but not so much. They do love my beer bread though 🙂 but it is pretty buttery the way I make it.

Morning surprise! – by Karan K.

Peacock

Peacock male (genus: Pavo). (© Laurent Dambies / Dreamstime)

The other day while I was watching the sunrise I could hear the calls of the wild turkeys that roam around here. I could not see them at that time though. It reminded me of an article I had read some years before saying that if an animal that would not normally be seen appears it is because it is bringing insight about the character of the observer. During my second cup of coffee I heard the turkeys once again, but this time they were closer and I could actually hear individual gobbles. I strained my eyes trying to see them, until finally I could make out their tails as they pecked their way along the ground in the brush and grasses surrounding my property. What I was not expecting was the appearance of a colorful tail fan of a Peacock pecking along with them. Well, I can’t say the unexpected sight brought me insight, but it sure was a sight to see.

 

Deer bring morning serenity – by Karan K.

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White-tailed Deer, male. (Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS / Wiki; PD)

Although I do not live in an urban area I really enjoy WelcomeWildlife.com. During my morning stroll through cyberspace I stop here on a regular basis to see what’s new in the critter world and glean little-known facts (to me, anyway) about wildlife in my area. Everyday I scour my yard and forest that surrounds me to see if any of these wonderful creatures are living here. I have discovered that indeed there are many that I have been able to find and knowing what their habitat needs are has made it a fun adventure. I love all the photos that everyone shares and I love all critters except for fleas, etc. Not too crazy about snakes, either, but I have learned to live amongst them, due to the fact I sort of encroached on their territory. Because of the cooling weather in my area the deer have been coming closer to inhabited areas for food. I have a small acreage, horses and dogs. The deer come in to feed on the stored hay I have for the horses, if the dogs don’t chase them away. I can see them from my window in the early morning fog and there are really no words to express the serenity that overwhelms me. What a wonderful way to do morning meditation.

 

Jackie to the rescue – by Karan K.

Marsh Rabbit (© Karan K.)

I live on a small acreage in north-central Florida where wildlife abounds. My home is surrounded by Live oaks, pines and Sweet Gum trees. It is a natural habitat and virtual forest. One of my greatest pleasures is watching all the critters go about their business while my little dog Jackie sits with me. Usually she stays right with me but on this particular day she took off running to the barn and disappeared behind it. When she did show up she went straight into the house and jumped on my bed where she began ruffling the covers, making a nest. I followed her to see what she was up to, and to my surprise she was making a place for her new “baby.” The baby, however, was a baby Marsh Rabbit. The eyes were not open yet so I assumed it was dead and started to scold Jackie, but the rabbit responded when I picked it up to remove it. I looked the rabbit all over and there was not one bite or mark on him (by this time I knew it was a male). Not even slobber from my dog’s mouth. After finding a safe, warm place to put the little guy I went to the barn and looked around to see if I could find the nest. I found what I thought could have been a nest but there were no other babies to be found. I did notice a rather large Rat Snake, looking well fed. I thought the snake might of eaten the other babies so there was no way I would put the orphaned baby back out there. The little guy was turned over to the Wildlife Care Center, a non-profit, and is now being nurtured and cared for until he can be released back into the wild. Thanks to Jackie for saving the rabbit even if she did think it was one of her puppies.

 

 

A change of mind – by Karan K. When I think about the wildlife in my habitat I classify them into categories, such as cute, adorable, acceptable, tolerable and scary. I place snakes in the scary category and mice in the tolerable. When fate would have it and I had to rescue a mouse, it really messed with my tolerable category. One morning while sitting on my deck I kept hearing a noise that sounded like water dripping into a tub of water. I dismissed the noise thinking it was nothing, but when the sound continued I decided to investigate. There was only one place where water could be standing — in an old bucket that hangs off the railing to catch rainwater. Peering into the bucket, to my surprise there was a little field mouse jumping up and down, trying to get out of the water. I hate to say this, but I laughed at the sight of this and thought of the old analogy of “looking like a drowned rat,” only in this case, a mouse. I yelled at my son to come out and empty the bucket of water away from the house. The little critter scampered away without hesitation. I know you think this is the end of the story, but it goes on. A few days later, after a heavy rain I heard the same noise again. I went to look and, yup, there it was. It appeared to be the same mouse jumping up and down in the bucket of water. I just could not figure out why this was happening again, especially after the near-fatal experience before. As I was looking, something wrapped around the support under the deck. It was a snake lying in wait for the mouse. Apparently, the mouse was getting away from the snake and fell into the bucket of water. This time, when the mouse was released it did not scamper into the woods as before, but lay there exhausted by the ordeal. It was so adorable and helpless, thus changing mice from category tolerable to category adorable.

 

 

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