View Full Version : Wild ones among us

09-06-2004, 08:46 AM
I live at the end of the grid, last house on the powerline. Even the mail truck does not come down my road very far, I get to journey to the post office for conversation and mail. There are hints of wildness on my land, bunnies come to share grain the horses drop, egrets follow them to grab the bugs they stir up. The cats eye them and decide to settle for drowsy well-fed dreams of ancient glory.

When the day and night cycle turns the sun into a hint of orange that reflects off the pond I see a bobcat flowing through the mist. He moves along on those improbably huge, furred feet with silent grace. I freeze and watch, admiring him with wide eyes and full heart. He sometimes pauses and looks towards me, deigning to acknowledge my existance in his world.

After he passes the bunnies come back out, the cats reappear, and the horses call me to come and play. For a few seconds wildness was there, and then it was gone.

What wild ones do you share your life with?

09-06-2004, 07:37 PM
We share our very rural property with a number of wild creatures. Rabbits are so used to our mild-mannered old dog that they actually come up on the front porch and nose around. We started feeding the wild birds when we realized they were stealing dog food out of her bowl, and chasing her away from it! Poor little doggie. A nosy little squirrel sometimes comes up a few feet from my front window to check out the bird feeder, and we find turtles, snakes, and armadillos quite often. Danged armadillos dig holes everywhere.

We also catch occasional glimpses of coyotes, foxes (very pretty but sneaky), cougars, and deer. The other evening just before dark, a large doe stood at the edge of our field, staring toward the house. Lovely!

I keep a pair of binoculars at the front door and a pair at the kitchen window at the back of the house. I love to watch all the different types of wild birds that live here, and those binoculars have let me study them much more closely than my near-sighted eyes ever would.

I love where we live! Our home is in the country, and is very quiet and peaceful. It feeds my soul! :heart

Okay, this is all probably waaay more than you really wanted to know....

09-06-2004, 07:43 PM
Okay, this is all probably waaay more than you really wanted to know.... No it is exactly perfect - your description of your place and the wild ones fed my soul this morning with delight and that deep sense of wonder writing springs from. Thank you sweet lady. :thumbs

09-06-2004, 07:49 PM
Oh, Carol, thank you. This discussion has made a wonderful start to my day! :hug

aka eraser
09-06-2004, 09:33 PM
I live in a small town in southern Ontario. Downtown is an easy walk of less than a mile. A major expressway, Highway 401, is only a few hundred yards away.

My house faces a field and creek, a couple of hundred undeveloped acres. The creek is teeming with salmon right now and will be for another month, then the brown trout and steelhead will poke their noses in. I can hear coyotes yipping at night and my son saw 6 deer a few mornings ago. We have a rabbit living under the cedars of our front yard. We often glimpse him at dusk nibbling on the remnants of our lawn.

Hawks, mourning doves, jays, cardinals, gulls (I'm about a mile from Lake Ontario) are all regular visitors. If I meander my way down the creek toward the lake I'll see ducks, geese, muskrats, the occasional beaver and great blue heron as well as a family of swans.

All the amenities of a town, 40 miles from a huge city (Toronto), with a goodly chunk of wilderness at my doorstep.

I'm in no hurry to move. :)

09-06-2004, 09:37 PM
Wow, Frank, that sounds pretty near perfect. :)

Tish Davidson
09-07-2004, 12:51 AM
Okay, Frank, sign me up for a lot down the street when I retire. Your place does sound perfect.

We live (not by choice) in a suburban community about 5 miles inland from east shore of the San Francisco Bay. This means the gulls are regular visitors at the school across the street at lunch time. Despite a being in the suburbs, we meet racoons several times a year. Last time was at 6 am when my dog treed a mother and 3 babies. It does not rain here from early May to September or October, so during that time, the racoons use the sewer system as dens freeways under the streets. If I am out early, I sometimes see one disappearing down a sewer grate on the way home from an evening of exploring. We also see possums fairly often and smell the skunk at night. For a town of 200,000 we have a surprisingly large amount of wildlife.

My stragest encounter was one Sunday night when we returned home from a weekend away. A barn owl was hanging suspended between our tree and one in our neighbor's yard. Apparently someone had been flying a kite (the school yard is a favorite place for this) using fishing line as kite string. The kite had gotten tangled in a tree and when it was removed, the line remained stretched between these two trees. The owl had flown into the fishing line and somehow gotten it wrapped around his wing. He was hanging sideways with his wings perpendicular to the ground.

It was Sunday night and we could not get anyone to help get the owl down. Animal control said that they would come only if the owl were on the ground, but it was not their job to get him there. The fire company said they had better things to do. Finally a bunch of neighbors taped together some poles with one of those saws on a pole for cutting tree branches at the end. Someone found a tall ladder and climbed up and with the extended poles was able to cut the line. Then animal control came and collected the bird and took him to a local wildlife rehab center.

The good news - 2 days later the wildlife rehab center called and said that the bird was healthy and had been released.

09-07-2004, 03:52 AM
Hi! I am happy that the barn owl was ok. I see that everyone here lives in beautiful surroundings. I live in a treeless suburb, but I have found ways to cope. Here is my story:

At the end of an industrial street, just a few kilometers from Canada's parliamentary buildings, lies a veritable paradise for wildlife. It is the head office of the non-profit conservation organization I work for. Surrounded by fields, wetlands, forests and a garden of native wildliflowers, it is not unusual for us (ie staff) to see Mother Nature's children on a daily basis.

A usual day involves admiring evening and rose-breasted grosbeaks at the bird feeders. Pileated woodpeckers, mourning doves, goldfinches, siskins and chickadees are also regulars. On our coffee break, we are amused by the Disneyesque antics of the squirrels, chipmunks and cottontail rabbits that come to feed on the sunflower seeds that the bluejays cast aside.

But our sightings are not limited to feeder visitors. In the nearby fields, the bobolinks gurgle their melodious flight song, while the red-tailed and goshawk scout the horizon for things to eat. In the marsh, we have seen turtles, frogs, a muskrat and a rail. A great blue heron has also moved in, which may explain the recent scarcity of frogs!

In the wintertime, on a painfully cold day, I saw a Great-horned owl perched in a tree. It was noon, and I was in the habit of taking lunch-time walks to burn off the calories gained during Christmas vacation (I still haven't managed to burn off all of the chocolates that were given to me by well-meaning relatives, but we won't go there, will we? It would change the whole tone of my story:b ). I was quite suprised to see her-and I am assuming she was female owing to her size. Female birds of prey are larger than males. I observed her for a while, and she looked down at me. Why did she decide to perch in that tree, at that time, in broad daylight? Who knows, but I did not miss the opportunity to "shoot" her with my camera!

Earlier this summer, I was having a particularly bad day, one where nothing seemed to go right, when my boss was being difficult, and I felt like I was drowing in a wave of self-pity. I suddenly felt the urge to look out the window. That is when I saw the most peaceful sight. In the parking lot, next to my car, was a beautiful white-tailed doe and her fawn. The little creature was suckling her, while she looked my way. That is when I knew why I had chosen wildlife biology as a profession, that it all made sense. Who else gets that kind of view from their window? Most people, if they are lucky enough to sit by a window, get to stare at the dreary neighbouring buildings.

But not me.

Suddenly, my boss' pettiness seemed trivial.

Littlecupofjoe :coffee

09-07-2004, 05:18 AM
Wow! Great stories, Tish and Littlecupofjoe. Glad the owl had caring humans to help out. And Littlecupofjoe, what a great location for your work! The doe and fawn...now that's a once-in-a-lifetime gift. :)

09-07-2004, 12:39 PM
Tish, was that rehab center the Lindsay Museum? It's the only one anywhere near here (I'm a few miles north of you). A few weeks ago, we spent most of a Sunday taking a young robin there that had tried to fly before it could and had landed on the street. That was a long trip by rapid (hmph!) transit and foot.

During part of the year, I have a "pet" bluejay that swoops down to take a peanut from my hand. It (sex unknown) buries the peanut. I don't know why it buries peanuts or where it lives the rest of the year. Apparently they migrate.

09-08-2004, 05:23 AM
Great stories, y'all.

I live in the town of Canmore, right next to the east gate to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. We lived in the town of Banff itself for eight years before moving here.

We get everything from Columbia ground squirrels to beavers, Lynx, Cougars, black bears, grizzly bears, deer, elk, wolves, coyotes, hawks and bald eagles. I've lost count of the number of different birds that perch in our trees.

We have a crabapple tree in our yard and one fine late summer afternoon, a black bear decided to sit under the branches and eat some of our apples. I know a lady who had a cougar chase her to her door. The big cats rarely venture into town, thank goodness. The elk are another story. While still in Banff, we would regularly have to wait for the elk to let us out of the house so we could go to work. My wife works at a hotel, and one winter afternoon, a big bull elk decided he liked the warmth of the lobby and strolled on in. Guests were freaking. My wife grabbed an apple and led him back outside.

Every spring and fall, the bald eagles migrate right along our valley. There's even a festival every year where people get together to watch them. I used to run a slowpitch ball league in Banff and during the migration, the eagles would perch in the tall fir trees surrounding the ball fields as if they were watching the games. Amazing birds.

I love it here.

09-08-2004, 05:32 AM
a big bull elk decided he liked the warmth of the lobby and strolled on in What a place to live in - Elk and eagles and cougars. I want pictures please.

I don't get anything that exotic in my house, but have had a horse stroll in through the open french doors looking for a cookie and my neighbor's bull came in once as well. The horse got his cookie, the bull got the whole house (I went out the front door with the portable phone and called for back-up. He is not nearly as house friendly as my horse was.)


09-08-2004, 07:41 AM

Been to Banff and have the pictures. Whole herds grazing on the front lawn of a hotel...

Bighorn sheep by the side of the road. Etc.


A major expressway, Highway 401, is only a few hundred yards away.

Ain't that enough wildlife? I lived beside the 401 once. Never again.

I live about an hour the other side of Toronto, in a city of about 100,000. Not a whole lot of wildlife viewing -- roaming cats and dogs take care of that, except for the pigeons. :grr

Once had to wait while a bunny hopped it's way across the parking lot of my co-op, and I've seen other small mammals in the university arboretum, but most of the wildlife I see around here is dead in the middle of the road. :cry

Why can't people drive slower.

My mom lives up Reph's way, though, on 100 acres just south of Kinmount, Ont.

They have deer, and bears, and lots and lots and lots of hummingbirds (they feed them). You can sometimes get dive-bombed going out their back door.

I like to go up to Algonquin Park, too. Last time up (last weekend) the kids and I saw two cow moose and a calf, one bull, a black bear, and a magnificent white-tailed deer stag.

I'm also one of the few people I know of who's seen an otter on the Otterslides (rapids).

Once I canoed down the Burnt River, and for about a mile, we had a great blue heron "leading" our canoe. Absolutely fabulous.

09-24-2004, 01:57 AM
Ahhh... can't get enough of the rural livin'! Love your stories on this stuff. ChunkyC - Canmore - I love it! Grew up in Calgary, but spent loads of time out in Canmore. I live in the Yukon, about 35 minutes from "town," although I work in town.... but this 35 mins brings so much peace to my mind as I head home and see the white-peaked mountains (yay!), and open spaces with few people....

One really cool thing I had happen for a few seasons, was a daily visit from a family of grouse! I could rely on these guys like clockwork, it was amazing how they showed up at around the same time every day. Just before dusk, 7 or 8 of these guys arrived and would start scavenging at one end of my yard, and make their way on the ground over to my cabin. They'd then head up into the trees and make their way over my dog yard (and people say they're stupid!!), and on they'd go, hopping from tree to tree, totally ignoring the yapping jumping furry things below. Man, I'd sit and watch those birds for hours. One evening I had a couple dogs loose, just running around and playing and one grouse was bopping along on the ground. Well both my young dogs noticed it, the grouse noticed them, and there was a bit of a standoff for a few seconds. Then the dogs lunged forward, with the grouse hopping up very nonchalantly into the tree. Safe to frolick in the trees for another day!

09-24-2004, 04:27 AM
Cool, CabinD! Another mountaineer. Though Canmore has grown so much in the last few years, it's getting tougher to see animals around town. As far as the big 'uns go, that's probably a good thing.

Yesh mentioned the Big Horn Sheep. Those guys are pretty neat too. There's a mountain near Banff where you can either take a gondola or walk to the top. The trail switches back and forth under the gondola and the top is about 4000 vertical feet above the starting point.

Anyway, the sheep wait at the top of the trail and lick the sweat off you when you arrive. They LOVE the salty taste. If you ignore them, they bump you until you let them at least lick your hands, or until they hear another 'victim' coming up the trail. Up close like that, you notice that the irises of their eyes are hourglass shaped. Bizarre.

Here's a link to a who's who of wildlife in Banff National Park. (http://www.canadianrockies.net/banff/bnpwbios.html)

And another (http://www.vec.ca/english/4/rockies_animals.cfm), oddly enough from an English school in Vancouver which is a thousand miles from here on the Pacific coast. But it's a pretty good list.

09-24-2004, 04:38 AM
What wonderful stories. I do envy you the variety of your wildlife. You still have things like wolves and wild boar (not sure about that one. Do you still have them?) that died out of Britain centuries ago.

On the bright side, we did have a pheasant in the garden last Christmas Day - though I was a bit disappointed it wasn't a partridge. If it had been, I could have super-glued it to my pear tree and had the start of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'!


09-24-2004, 04:42 AM
*groan* :lol

I added a few links to my post above, for anyone interested in photos of our local critters.

09-24-2004, 09:36 AM
Last Sunday afternoon, my husband was sitting in the recliner by our big window in the living room. Suddenly he sat up and gasped, "There's a deer!"

I rushed to the window to look out. A small spotted fawn stepped out of the woods at the edge of our field and was soon followed by a doe. We tiptoed out onto the porch, binoculars in hand, to watch.

They wandered around the perimeter of the field, and finally disappeared into the woods in front of the house. My husband quickly and quietly went back inside and grabbed the camera, then stepped silently back out. We were thinking (hoping!) that they might come back. Well, they did!

And not only did they come back out into the open, but they came right up into our yard! The fawn trotted toward us and then stopped to stare. The doe joined it, and both watched us watch them. After visiting with us for about 5-10 minutes, they turned and bounded into the woods.

What a special gift. :heart

09-25-2004, 06:51 AM
Great links, Chunky, Ty.

Btw - did you know the original Banff is in Scotland? Not as much wildlife as in yours, but we do have wee hairy neds on a Saturday night.


09-26-2004, 04:56 AM
"Hairy Neds"? Sounds like somebody's uncle. :grin

Yes, I knew Banff was from Scotland. There's a fair bit of pride taken in that by locals of Scottish descent. Banff's most famous hotel, The Fairmont Banff Springs (http://www.fairmont.com/FA/en/CDA/Home/Hotels/AboutHotel/CDHotelHomePage/0,2993,property%25255Fseq%253D100100,00.html), has a room called the Rob Roy Room. The gentlemen who greet you when you pull up wear kilts. It's quite the place.

09-27-2004, 10:58 PM
ChunkyC - are you serious? The sheep LICK you!!! Crazy!

09-27-2004, 11:44 PM
The sheep LICK you!!!
Yup. It's a small herd that lives around the restaurant and gift shop at the top of Sulphur Mountain (http://www.banffgondola.com/default.htm). There's an ongoing debate in the area about how tame some of the wildlife have become. Visitors are warned not to approach the wildlife because you never know, but what do you do when the sheep approach you? Just don't try to pet them. Or the bears. :ack

Kempo Kid
10-20-2004, 08:03 AM
I live in the middle of the city, but Denver is such that there is still wildlife that makes its way even into the city, and the locals enjoy it and even take a lot of pride in it.

When I lived in Boulder, I worked a fifteen minute walk away, and the building where I worked had a lot of vacant land around it. Deer would come onto the land to graze. We'd see foxes and raccoons regularly.

Bear often wander into the city from the west. They don't always stick with raiding garbage cans. Sometimes they walk right into the houses and raid the refrigerators. (It has happened!) Cougar, too, sometimes make it even to the east side of town. Bears and cougars are generally tranked and transported back into the mountains. One time, years ago, animal control officers shot a cougar because they thought the trank wasn't working and the cougar was about to make a break for it. The local residents were not happy about the cat being killed. Yes, cougars are dangerous and they don't belong in Denver, but they still didn't want it killed.

I myself have seen plenty of raccoons, bunnies, foxes, deer, and once even a coyote. And the lynx in the mountains are apparently surviving, even mating and having young.

Tomorrow: wolves!

Ah, this is part of the reason why I moved to Colorado. In Chicago all I saw were pigeons and the occasional stray cats. (I left the pigeons alone, but the cats I either fed or took in.)