Under the Feeder at Night

I have several bird feeders in my back yard. Over the years I’ve seen new bird species come every year. It’s a source of pleasure for me, environmental enrichment for my indoor cats and a source of supplemental food for my Labrador, Tybee, who never thinks I feed him enough.

Is there anything left for me?

I know Tybee isn’t the only one drawn to the spilled seed on the ground. As the snow melts every year a network of vole tunnels is revealed through the snow and mulch. Occasionally there are day time visitors besides the birds and squirrels, like Penelope this year and a buck several years ago.

There are regular evening visitors who vary by the time of year. In winter, when its dark so early and other food sources are scarce, the routine is to always shine a light under the feeders before letting the dogs out. Usually a knock on the window or a quick, “shoo,” will send the opossum, skunk or raccoon scurrying under the deck. The dogs go out, run around manically looking for the interloper and everyone stays safe.

The threat of the dogs, just the knowledge that they could appear at almost any time, keeps the wildlife from choosing the cover of this deck next to this buffet as a place to make a home and start a family. If I didn’t have dogs, this feeder set-up would need to change. As it is, I love that wildlife visit.

It’s just warmed up over the last week.  There’s still a trace of snow piled in the shady spots, but spring is definitely here.  The sun shines so warmly and the animals are on the move.

Two consecutive March nights under the “bird” feeder…

(Hover over images to read captions)

Penelope opossum meets a skunk. The skunk is concerned. She doesn’t care.

We’ve known about a pair of raccoon visitors for a while.  Usually, we see one, sometimes two.

Three raccoons!  That’s a little concerning. I have to remind myself that they’ve been behaving responsibly.  Without the camera trap, I never would have known.

That Penelope is pretty tolerant of others.  She doesn’t pay any attention to the raccoon either.

FOUR raccoons!  I can’t tell Rob about this.  He’s going to freak out.  Well, the skunk doesn’t seem to mind…although she keeps her tail cocked and ready to fire!

The skunk is reacting to this guy like he might be trouble, which makes me think he might not have been around earlier tonight.

I’m surprised at the species intermingling, but I guess food creates tolerance.  I don’t know how the dogs got any sleep with this activity all night long right outside the door, but I never heard a peep.

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