You can’t imagine how much joy it brings me when the (at least two) owls in our backyard get to having a chat. Intermittently, they go quiet — I assume they have multiple hunting grounds in the area — and I start to worry they have left or that something happened to one or more of them. Then, the hooting begins again. I swear, I could sit for hours listening to them — and I have. The past few days, they have been in attendance and I usually can’t wait for the twins go to bed so that it is finally quiet enough to hear them.
As much as the shrieking bothers my girls, I feel similarly about the hawk or falcon that comes by in the summer. The local rabbit population starts to turn exponential and then *boom*, our cleanup crew pays a visit. Either the hawk (I’ve never looked him up and he stays up so high in the cottonwood that it is hard to get the markings to check, when I think of it), or the owls make a comeback and, well, that’s the end of that growth cycle. We also have a bald eagle who likes swing in from the Mississippi river to troll the hawk and blackbirds that congregate. He must have heard about our rabbit buffet.
We also have too many deer in the neighborhood and I’ve thought about asking the city if it isn’t about time that they did a prescribed kill. Not that I don’t enjoy having deer, but they sometimes are at unsustainable numbers for an urban setting and start to strip bark off trees in the winter as a result, and generally are a risk factor for cars driving at night. With no natural predators in the city, their population cycle is similar to the rabbits, just stretched out. Last time I saw a herd (yes, herd), I counted about a dozen moving through our front yard. I assume there are more that I couldn’t count. I expect to loose at least one apple tree (and maybe a pine or two, as those are in a “safer” part of the yard) in our yard to them from bark stripping once February hard cold sets in (sub-zero Fahrenheit for weeks on end), the “moon of popping trees” (and yes, they do pop and occasionally blow out a side of their branches or trunks in the worst winters). I hate encouraging the death of an animal but, without natural culling sources like wolves, it is actually more humane than letting them starve, or be killed in an accident with a car.
I’ve mentioned our foxes. I wish they weren’t so sneaky — I used to love watching them as kits rolling around in the unmowed grass on the hill in the back yard, sunning themselves. But something must have spooked them from such carefree play and now they are big and slink around to avoid the neighborhood dogs.
I have no clue where the opossum we had visit one year came from. I was under the impression they prefer wetlands and the nearest wetlands are about a half mile away. Scared the shit out of my eldest — she was about five at the time and suddenly she could see a wizened old man’s face at the patio door by the ground — you know, where a man’s face doesn’t normally linger. I saw it too, but I could not convince her that it was an opossum. To be honest, I had to check to see if they had a habitat here. I’d never heard of one being in our area.
We are lucky to have so many birds and other wildlife, living in a first-ring suburb. It almost makes up for not having a get-away place in the Minnesota north woods to sit and just listen and watch.