By Jan Stadtherr
It seems like we’ve lived in Critterville this past summer as more of God’s creatures have been visiting us.
Social media and television frequently have videos of animals being seen in the urban areas such as bears, coyotes, and even a moose cooling off by standing near a lawn sprinkler. Seeing more wildlife in areas that they are not typically seen is being attributed by some to COVID-19, particularly during the shelter at home order.
My husband and I live on a lake in the sticks. Any town is around 15 miles away no matter what direction we go. We’re used to seeing critters, but there have been more than usual this summer. And some of those visitors have been acting strangely but comical as well.
A new visitor this year is a muskrat. For a few weeks, I thought it was an otter. It would come up from the lake, snoop around for grasses to munch on and then head for our deck. Once on the deck, it jumped from chair to chair and eyed several of my plants, which he or she never has eaten (for which I am thankful). I haven’t taken a picture or video of it so far as my cell phone is not with me all the time. I looked online to do some research on the new visitor and discovered that otters don’t eat plants and grasses.
Our deck is my outside living room. I don’t want larger critters invading my space while I’m enjoying nature. Wondering how we could deter the animal from coming on the deck, I called the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). As I described the animal, the DNR officer said it was probably a muskrat as they eat vegetation and added that otters are larger and are carnivores. Like geese, muskrats are nuisance animals on one’s property. I hope he or she decides to vacate the premises.
The funniest visitor is a robin which returns to our property every year. Every spring this territorial bird keeps hitting the window on the service door to the garage. The window is smeared with feces, as is the trash can next to the door. Thinking he was trying to make whoopee with his reflection, further research says the male bird, who thinks it’s another robin, is protecting his territory. The problem was solved by attaching newspaper over the window that has yellowed with age.
The population of eagles has increased and this summer I was able to take photos of four eagles perched in a large tree in our yard before the leaves bloomed. I love to watch these majestic birds as they soar over the lake.
We seem to be filling the bird feeders more often this summer along with the humming bird feeder. I enjoy the hummers as they swoop by my head while sitting on the deck and watching them fight with other hummers for a space at the feeder. The consumption of seed and nectar may have set a record this year. It can’t be because of the pandemic, but do they know something that we don’t?
In the middle of the day, we have seen a fox playing with a mouse. Just like a cat, it pounced on the small rodent and then would let it go again. After nearly an hour of playing with it, Mr. Fox had it for lunch. I did get a video of the episode.
Another first, was a mama porcupine and its baby. Wild turkeys took their time as they strolled at their leisure. Deer are plentiful and they must think they own the property.
A couple years ago, two bears crossed the deck and left their mark, as did a raccoon. We haven’t seen any bear on our property this year but the cameras on both sides of the house have focused on them during the night as we sleep.
Having lived here for over nine years, we have been awakened at dawn this summer by a murder of crows (strange name for a flock of crows). The loud cawing is very annoying at that time of day. Surprised to learn that scientists have compared the intelligence of a crow to a seven-year-old child. Crows mate for life and are the only non-primates that make tools. The large black birds have moved on, and hopefully, will not return.
According to the experts, if you think crows are watching you, they are. They supposedly learn a lot from humans. Perhaps that is why they left. They noticed I was blonde and couldn’t learn anything from me.