Tag Archives: squirrel

The New Bird Food Visitors

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I got some additional kinds of foods for my feathered friends recently—a suet block and some black seeds—just for a bit of variety.

And I was rewarded this morning, with some nice visitors to my feeders.

Well, the “winter flowers,” as my oldest sister calls them, are nice to see. And only 6 weeks or so until we may start to see the first signs of spring flowers. Knock on wood.

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A Few Damp Fall Friends I See Out My Window


Weather turns wetter Sunday. Drizzle drips from leaves of pear tree outside my home office window.

Weather turns wetter Sunday. Drizzle drips from leaves of pear tree outside my home office window.

Sunday—the dry spell that we’ve been enjoying came to an end, and since then we’ve been treated to the dark side of an Iowa fall—cool, wet, monotonous rain with none of the dramatic skies and energy of a summer storm.

Of course, summer storms can also come with tornados, so I’m OK if the more frigid fall rains cascade with less drama. And there were a few rumbles of thunder today, just to remind us that the northern hemisphere is just starting to shy away from the nearest star, and there’s still some heat in those solar photons.

Anyway, as the first damp drizzle of the three-day rainy season kicked off Sunday, I was in my home office, writing an exam that I gave speech students on Monday.

As I worked, I could not help but watch out the window. Animal Planet, the backyard version, was playing. Mostly, it was birds, although the star of the show was a mammal.

Squirrel stretches for a meal in a pear tree.

Squirrel stretches for a meal in a pear tree.

I took a break every few questions to point my camera out the window and snap a few portraits. One is just of the wet pear leaves, but the rest are fall visitors, attracted, I think mostly by the pear fruit.

I didn’t succeed in recording all of the visitors. There’s a robin who has not yet departed the city for the countryside for his winter home. A pair of cardinals reside in the bushy area near the clothes line—very near the office window—and put in an appearance, first he, then she. But they moved too quickly for me to capture their little avian souls with my Nikon soul catcher (cardinals are Amish and don’t like to get their pictures taken).

One interesting black and white bird was just around the chimney corner, and the only halfway decent photo of him I got shows more chimney then bird. Still, I like the image, so here it is.

And then there was the well-fed tree rodent who appeared right before rain broke up the backyard party. Where do all the birds go in the rain? I don’t know, but they don’t hang out by my window.

The squirrel was not as skittish as the birds, and I got multiple squirrely images. I like the one of her standing on a branch, reaching for a pear. At this rate, the fruit won’t last long into the cold weather that surely is coming, but we’ll see.

The rain is actually good news, from my point of view. I know it delays an already slow harvest, but for an urban gardener, things were getting a bit dry out there and it’s nice to bank some moisture before the winter sets in. And I planted grass this fall, which needed the wet since I don’t have time to water.

I’m stuck inside. Writing exams. When I’m not shooting wild things.

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Lunch At the Pear Tree Café

Hey, Pinky, who are you calling a tree rat? And where are my bagels?

Hey, Pinky, who are you calling a tree rat? And where are my bagels?

In the movie “Up,” the dog Dug gets distracted easily by tree rodents.

I must not be too different. Around noon today, while talking via Skype with my son in Paraguay, I was also watching the lunch crowd at the nearby Pear Tree Café.

Pears! Nom-nom-nom-nom.

Pears! Nom-nom-nom-nom.

The small pears on these trees must be delicious, considering the lengths our heavy neighborhood squirrel goes to. The squirrel is heavy, by the way, partly due to ill-advised offerings sometimes cast onto our deck by wayward family members. This week, my youngest son found some bagels that were too old for human consumption, and pitched them out the back door. There they sat, partly covered by snow, until the snow started to melt. Moldy old bread, apparently, is best served chilled and slightly soggy—or that’s the way this pear-devouring tree rat prefers them anyway.


Some birds, including this cardinal, also were in the lunch crowd. Smaller birds were too flighty to be photographed, but the cardinal was almost as indifferent as the squirrel.

Anyway, I have way too much to do today. But I loved the photos, so I posted a set on Flickr. The squirrel was joined by a pair of cardinals, but Mrs. Cardinal was too shy to be photographed. Garish Mr. Cardinal was another story. Anyway, there were a few other birds, too, but they were too quick for the distracted, Skyping paparazzi to photograph.


Pears and leaves at noon. Maybe the pear trees keep their leaves because they want to encourage lunch customers and the leaf cover makes birds and squirrels more likely to eat the fruit? It’s a theory. Pear trees seem to retain leaves much longer than other trees.


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Wild Day In The Quiet Winter Garden

Turkey in the woods south of Dry Creek near our house.

Turkey in the woods south of Dry Creek near our house.

It was a bit cold today, with a breeze, temperatures that could be counted on the fingers of two hands and light flurries in the air.

And yet, it was a day of wild life in the frozen winter gardens.

We’ve put out a couple of bird feeders this winter, which are attracting the usual crowd of small brown birds, augmented now and then with a neighborhood cardinal couple. We purchased squirrel-resistant feeders and squirrel guards for the feeder poles, which seem together to be doing a good job of keeping the tree rats away from the feeders, although the squirrels are not going hungry—there is plenty of food spilled by the birds on the ground.

Anyway, today Audrey set an aging pumpkin pie that we are too stuffed to eat and that’s getting beyond the attractive point out on the deck. It didn’t take long for our main fat neighborhood tree rat to find it—this same bold squirrel has been known to stare at us through our dining room window, especially if he thinks we’ve neglected stocking the bird feeders too long. Anyway, fatty tree rat ate freely of the pie, although there seemed to be too much for him to finish in one morning meal.

As we watched him, a fairly substantial herd of deer passed by in the bed of Dry Creek, too far for me to try to photograph them. That was in the morning—in the afternoon, a bunch of turkeys were in the same area, and I did shoot some images of them.

So I made the film of “The Life of Pie” that our squirrel led today. Hope you enjoy it.  Dec. 30 update: More backyard wild animal photos from the day of this blog and the next day are here.

Squirrel enjoys pie.

Squirrel enjoys pie.

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The Lunch Break For A Tree Rodent

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My diet today is pretty set—pie for breakfast, cold turkey sandwich for lunch followed by pie for desert, maybe some warm leftovers for supper. Such is it always the day after turkey day.

I don’t mind the wake of Thanksgiving Day—in fact, I am such a lover of the after-Thanksgiving cold turkey sandwich that I consider this to be probably the best food day of the year.

Anyway, I was a good boy and went to the gym this morning-which is unarguably a good thing, considering my eating plans. Before getting dressed, I chanced to look outside and saw this tree rodent dining on my crab apples.

It was a cold day, as you can see from his or her fluffy fur and tail. I have long enjoyed watching squirrels. They were always “there” when I was growing up in Clinton Iowa, a fun animal to watch. Once, when digging for some random reason, I found a skull in my backyard, and my father identified it as a squirrel skull.

It made me really sad to think that a squirrel had died.

Now, as an adult gardener, I must admit squirrel death doesn’t have quite the same tragic feel to it. When I find one of those tree rats digging for my flower bulbs, I do have less than charitable thoughts. And when we lived in Missouri, there was a family of tree rodents living in our attic that we waged a mighty campaign to oust. I don’t know for sure we succeeded. They have teeth that are prodigious in their gnawing ability. And they attack bird feeders, too. So I have lots of reasons not to like squirrels.

Yet, they are far less destructive than the Satan of the garden that hops along with its darn cottony tail and long ears. I would rather have 20 squirrels than one rabbit.

So, I will suffer the squirrel. Let him or her eat. He or she needs the calories on this cold, windy day. So, I’ll fix me a turkey sandwich and watch out my window. I just saw a cardinal in a bare lilac bush, but was downloading squirrel images, so I didn’t try to shoot it. Feed on, tree rodent. I bet my lunch tastes better than yours.

Nov. 28 update:  On Sunday, I saw a neighborhood squirrel, possibly the same one, eating in a pear tree right next to my home office window.  Closer images are on this Facebook gallery.

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Backyard birds


Flight of the sparrows. First they drove off the cardidnal then ate the seeds.



Cardinal near deck


Squirrel at backyard feeder

Some random animal photos from this morning, when the sun was shining before the snow moved in. I saw squirrels, cardinal and sparrows, for some reason the bigger bird, the cardinal, is quicker and harder to photograph than the sparrows. The squirrels in particular were entertaining to watch as they attempted to reach the seed, one by hanging upside down on pole holding feeder.  More photos on flickr.

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Here There Be Monsters … Or Should Be

Grotto monsters

Two drakes, the closest we are to Grotto creatures, April 17

Aye, talk like a pirate. A Grotto pirate.

One of my favorite spots on the MMU campus is in need of some TLC—parts of Our Lady of Sorrows Grotto are falling into disrepair. I guess gluing rocks to cement is not a long-term construction solution for the climate of Iowa.

Anyway, I know the Art Program has ongoing efforts to preserve the Grotto, and more power to them.

It’s a serene place, both a place of folk art and a place of spiritual symbolism. As you can see from my earlier posts, I do like the Grotto.

Ducks on the way

Comings at you, a flotilla of feathered fiends! OK, two quiet ducks.

But it would be whole lot cooler with, ala Loch Ness, a mysterious creature. Picture it, some tipsy juniors are erratically weaving their way back in the general direction of the Lower Campus apartments, when suddenly a scaly head breaks the surface of the calm Grotto pond. No sound needed—beyond the student’s startled screams.

Ta-dah! Instant sobriety.

Or think of how much more exciting campus tours would be if a few “don’t feed the creature” signs were necessary to ensure safety near the murky, mysterious waters of the MMU pond.

Sigh. The best we can do is an aggressive squirrel or two. And a couple of drakes.


Squirrel! MMU tree rodents have been known to be aggressive, or so students tell me. They've never bothered me. Not much of a Grotto creature.

But that’s OK. The upcoming “Walk of Mercy,” part of the MMU Center project, will make the Grotto a more prominent part of campus. I don’t think that will detract from it—in fact, I think it’s an enhancement.

Still, can’t blame a guy for wishing for a little Loch Ness magic.

In the narrows

Mallard drakes negotiate "the narrows" near the 10 Commandment Monument.

Drake closeup

A closer look at the dynamic drake duo.

Reflecting drakes

Drake wake on the reflecting pond.

Final duck image

The final duck image--it's all water under the (Grotto) bridge. Maybe a troll for the bridge?


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