The good news is that white tailed deer are having no trouble finding plenty to eat on the ground, and they look healthy and fit. Gray squirrels have been playing courtship games, chasing each other around the tree trunks and through the branches. Itís good to see a little action in the yard. I enjoy watching the squirrels at play.
A whiff of skunk reminded me how warm it was. I didnít see the ole pole cat, but I knew he was around. I knew the opossums were also out and about. I didnít see one, but I saw two that didnít make it across the road.
A row of tall cedar trees looked ghostly, half hidden by the early morning fog. The sun was trying to break through the haze when I saw a coyote standing motionless in the field. He was a healthy, handsome coyote, head raised high and ears erect. I got the feeling he was hunting and had just run out of the stand of cedar trees. He was looking for something. A moment later I saw what he was after: three wild turkeys standing together in the marsh grass 50 yards away. It was a strange place to see turkeys at the crack of dawn. I could imagine the coyote had picked up the scent of the turkeys while they were still roosting in the cedar trees. When he tried to stalk up on them, they flew from the trees with the coyote in hot pursuit. Not wanting to fly too far in the dense fog, the turkeys had to land. The coyote had no idea which way they went but paused to sniff the air and listen for any signs of them. He wonít be eating turkey for breakfast today, but for a coyote thereís always something to eat. All he has to do is find it, and heís good at that.
The temperature dropped a few degrees and brought a little snow on Friday. It was nice to see some white on the ground for a change and it always seems to make for more action at the bird feeders. A fat red fox squirrel sat at the end of a long tray feeder. He straddled an ear of corn and nibbled down the kernels. I figure that the more corn he eats, the fewer expensive sunflower seeds heíll eat. There are four of these large prairie fox squirrels that visit the yard, and they are joined by five or six gray squirrels. Eight or ten squirrels can eat a lot of seed, so I provide them with a few ears of corn each day.
Under the bird feeder the mourning doves gathered to snap up the loose bits of crushed corn. They will land on the feeders but prefer to feed on the ground. Each day I sweep away the new snow and scatter some of the corn on the ground for them and the little black juncos. I thought it interesting that the doves have pretty pink legs and feet while the juncos have little pink beaks.
A beautiful male red-bellied woodpecker lands at the edge of the feeder and he, too, is interested in some of the cracked corn. He quickly eats several pieces before flying off with a single black sunflower seed. Woodpeckers donít use their feet to hold a sunflower seed in place while they peck it open. Instead, they find a crack in a tree limb or a groove in some bark to place the seed so they can peck it open with their sharp beaks. Blue jays, on the other hand, are very good at holding a sunflower seed with their feet and pecking it open. I guess they have to be good at it or else they would keep pecking their toes! The jay thinks it would be a good idea to hide some of the cracked corn for later, so he fills his crop with bits of corn and flies off to his secret hiding place.
A female hairy woodpecker decides to add a little suet to her diet and take her turn at the suet feeder. She looks exactly like her smaller cousin, the downy woodpecker who she just chased away to get the best spot at the feeder.
A bold little chickadee scolds the blue jay from its perch in the lilac bush. It also prefers the sunflower seeds and waits impatiently for the blue jay to leave so it can get some. The chickadee and blue jay are cousins in the bird world and have several of the same mannerisms. For one, they both hold the sunflower seeds in their feet to peck them open, and they both like to hide some of their food for later use.
The male cardinal also eats the cracked corn but prefers the black oil sunflower seeds. I love that splash of red outside my window in the winter. Who wouldnít?
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