Monday, May 07, 2007

New Visitors and a Lost Soul

We try a to create a safe haven for all creatures furred, feathered, and should they venture this far north, scaled. If the visitors turn out to be aggressive, or a danger to ourselves or others, we try to relocate them to a safer place. So far we have only ever had to relocate a stray dog and call the dog catcher on another. Our efforts were rewarded today by the surprise visit of a male Purple Finch, an American Pipit, a possible Pine Siskin, and a wayward young squirrel.

The birds were seen in and around the various feeders we have on the property but in the case of the Purple Finch we were standing less than 2 meters from the feeder when he landed. There can be no doubting his identification. The Siskin we saw from inside the house near sunset so the markings were hard to make out but we are pretty sure of its identification.

The Pipit was the big surprise since they are shore birds. PeterC saw him bobbing about in the side yard as he came in from walking the dogs. Our bird book described their very distinctive movements and colouration which makes PeterC positive of the identification. Since we are only a few blocks from the St Lawrence River, we assume he is from the shoreline there and came inland with the wind over the last few days.

When we arrive home from work we always walk slowly so we disturb as few creatures as possible. We stop walking altogether if a creature is near the walkway be it squirrel, skunk, stray cat, or bird. This has allowed us to observe some of the more charismatic and fearless animals, especially the birds from a closer vantage.

Today, when we stopped to let the young squirrel pass, he stopped and looked back at us. Then very slowly, and with a great deal of caution he walked toward us. We stood our ground and he walked right past and between us, his little bushy tail brushing our jeans. Once he was far enough past, we continued on our way to the house. As we reached the porch, we saw that he had followed us at a small distance and was standing near the base of the tree we feed the squirrels in. The feeders were empty so we decided to fill them up.

When PeterC came out with the peanut bag the young one hopped slowly toward him. PeterC knelt down and offered a peanut. The baby hopped closer but just couldn't overcome his fear of us, which is as it should be in all honesty. The baby hopped onto the base of the tree and watched us fill the feeder. Muffit, our little indoor dog, decided to sneak closer for a good sniff and the baby looked around the tree in time to touch her nose. Both Muffit and the baby started in surprise, the baby doing a neat little back flip.

By this time Dunny was letting us know it was time to let him out of his kennel so we finished filling the feeders and putting out dried corn on the cob. When we let Dunny out he made to go after the baby but we reined him him as we don't want him chasing small furry creatures. Luckily, the little squirrel knew enough to head for the closest tree when Dunny made a move toward him. I think he will be just fine, but we'll have to be careful not to make him completely dependant on us for his food.

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