Saturday, March 31, 2007

Squirrelpalooza and other happenings

Two weeks without posting! Alas, I have been mucho busy lately, between working on the illustrations for a children's book (my deadline is May and I am now officially sweating) and trying to buy a farm. We thought we had one this week, a 142-acre baby, but someone else bought it out from under us. Back to the search!

In the meantime, things have been hopping in the backyard. I give to you Bobby, aka Stumpy, the red squirrel with half a tail:

Sorry for the crappy photo quality. You do what you can when you're shooting through a dirty windy on a grey day! Bobby is very, very cute. There is something incredibly endearing about his amputated tail. No idea what happened, but it's an old injury and he's doing just fine without it. He has a great appreciation for my gourmet seed mix from Ritchie's feed store in Ottawa.

And this, my friends, is...


There are 12 squirrels in this photo, red, black and grey. Due to crappy photo quality, you may not be able to count them all. Do click on the photo to enlarge it. Some are in the feeders on and around the tree stump at the back of the yard, almost in the centre of the pic. Some of them look like dots in the snow. They are EVERYWHERE. They are like nits in a schoolgirl's hair!

I have thus far counted a maximum of thirteen squirrels in the yard. Never in my years of birdfeeding have I seen THAT many squirrels coming to the feeders all at once. And to think that for six months, not a squirrel visited! All of a sudden, word has spread through the bushy-tailed grapevine.

I call it Squirrelpalooza, and it's kind of creepy when there are that many running around the yard. They are rodents, after all. They don't give a damn if you bang on the windows in an attempt to scare them off. You have to go outside and yell at them to get them to move at all.

And here we have a ruffed grouse (at least I think it's a ruffed grouse) from last week. He/she was eating the cracked corn that I spread for the wild turkeys. But now we have mallards and black ducks coming on a daily basis as well ad the turkey-lurkies. Like I said, word has spread. Because you know, without me and my gourmet seed mix, shelled peanuts, suet and 55-lb bag of cracked corn, they'd all starve to death. Oh yes.

But bar none, the best wildlife event in ages happened last weekend. We had THREE pileated woodpeckers in the yard at once. Look at them!! Two females and a male, I believe...

And then two of the girls spiralled up the woodpecker tree, so called because there are always woodpeckers (downy, hairy, pileated or northern flickers) on it, often pecking the bark to shreds:

You should hear them screaming across the yard. You'd recognize the sound, as they apparently used to use pileated calls in old jungle movies. It scared the #$@#$ out of me the first time I was out there and heard it directly over my head as a pileated flew by.

I live in wildlife paradise! Too bad the roads are so atrocious, and I can't get a family doctor. We did $1250 worth of damage to our car's suspension and front brake caliper last week. We sadly both hit the same hidden pothole on the same day, and this was at the snail speed of 30 kmph. I would like to sue Jean Charest (Quebec premier) personally. The roads here remind me of the roads in, say, Cambodia. Or Sri Lanka. But I digress.


  1. Sorry that farm didn't work out, but I'm sure you'll find one that will soon. And major bummer about the car. :-( At least you can enjoy the wildlife show. The most excitement we've had lately hear was a pigeon in the backyard with a wounded wing--which Ruthie failed to noitce even when she was just a few feet away. She'd enjoy the squirrels, though!

  2. You make me miss my farm!! Where I am now, I have song birds and squirrels and other small animals, but the farm was like a mini-Wild Kingdom. There were different animals up close and personal every single day. Of course, Crow thought it was a smorgasbord!

    You'll find the right place soon. In the meanwhile, you've got your own piece of heaven right there.

  3. "The roads here remind me of the roads in, say, Cambodia. Or Sri Lanka." Or Sonoma County, California, with the worst roads in the San Francisco Bay area.

    I saw no squirrels for more than 10 years after I moved into this house. Then, several blocks away, a developer tore down an old house and put up 8 homes (no wonder our roads are crap). That displaced a lot of wildlife, including a bunch of squirrels that now race around along the fences and tall trees in my block.

    Can't wait to see your photos when the weather's better (and, uhm, your windows're cleaner)!


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!