Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Weathering Winter

Around the yard, there are at least five stations for wildlife chow set out. Like many others, we put out birdseed and suet for our songbirds. We also set out a little corn on the cob for the squirrels. There is no doubt the gesture is appreciated, because the squirrels don't actually nest in our yard, and most of the birds don't, either (though some do).

One of the wonderful things about snow is that you can see the tracks of those who have visited. In addition to knowing these creatures have been on the property, we get to see what it is that drew them to our yard. Which today tells me that the number one reason to show up in this yard is... water. And I disappointed them, because my old heated birdbath croaked. You can see the numerous tracks across the frozen bowl of the birdbath in the photo (left). This will no doubt accelerate my digging of a small "watering hole" or shallow water feature. I've had the liner and pump for a while, but it just had not made it high enough up the priority list for me to allocate the necessary time. Anybody else have a project like that?

Chasing the various tracks around the yard revealed that our occasional bunny had been in evidence. His tracks can be seen in the lower left of the photo above, but also (if you look hard) in the snow by this pile of brush, on the right side of the frame. The tracks led directly into the bottom of the brush pile. We started this pile the first year we occupied the house. It is placed up and out of the way under some mature trees (fir and maple). We frequently place pruned branches onto the pile, which began with a Christmas tree if I remember correctly. Not all the pruning goes to this designated pile, but a large portion of it does. Somehow the pile never seems to grow much larger.

During hatching season, young wrens will hide in this brush pile. Other birds do also, I'm sure--I just happen to have photographic proof of the wrens! Go here to read the post, if you like. From the house side of this pile, it is rarely if ever seen. If you walk past the back of our property, you'll see something like the photo at right--nothing very remarkable. We took advantage of the natural slope of the land when we placed the first parts of our Official Wildlife Hiding Place. Squirrels, chipmunks and at least one black rat snake have hidden out here before. This pile is just part of the "shelter" we provide in our backyard habitat--we also put up bird houses, have a few rocky piles and several logs littering the landscape providing lodging for toads, insects and other necessary creatures.

Based on the tracks, it looks like there are two bunnies around the neighborhood. A small one that went into the brush pile, and a larger one that hopped off into the sunset through the snag behind our neighbor's house. Guess our brush pile isn't big enough!


Ellen Honeycutt said...

Your place sounds like a great place for wildlife. I'm glad you pointed out how important brush piles are. They are such an easy thing to do and so worth it to the critters.

R. K. Young said...

Thanks, Ellen! And you are right... soooooo easy to implement. Would be on my "short list" for any homeowner!

chacha1 said...

Can't wait to get back to our lot and start cleaning it up. There will be tons of pruning ... in the future I want to plant native grapevines along our property line (to take the place of hideous barbed-wire fence) but till that day comes it seems like a great place to make a long skinny brush pile. :-)

R. K. Young said...

Which will result in a lovely stash of topsoil, over time! Well played!

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