Sunday, June 21, 2009

Black Squirrel

The first time I realized there were black squirrels was in the Chicago suburbs. We had a frequent visitor to our yard. He was fun to see being such an oddity. The story I heard about this was that W. K. Kellogg of the Kellogg cereal fame brought some over from Germany in his time and some were let go in Battle Creek Michigan. The stories I've heard vary about the how and why of their travels from Germany. Some say it was because Kellogg wanted to rid his area of red squirrels and was out to create a turf war. It's said that a heavy population exist only in five areas in the U.S. Detroit, MI, Reedsburg, WI, Princeton, NJ, Galesburg, IL and New Hartford, CT. No one seems to explain why that is.

They've since florished in the wilds and have traveled some apparently. This little guy showed up at our bird feeder today and posed for a few pictures.

Do you have any in your area? If so please leave a comment here and tell me where you live and if they are a once in awhile sighting or a large group population. It would be interesting to know how far they've traveled over the years.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Swan Feed Continued

This family has been dropping by every so often to get a little bread. Each day daddy was getting more aggressive. He seems to feel as head of the family he should be fed first and the most. The babies make little chirping noises and you just want to reach down and pet one or play with them, but the bloody stub you'd be left with just doesn't warrant such an act.

The third day they came for food they were about half way down the bay and started swimming toward me. Dad took off and flew toward me coming to a skid on the water. The rest of the family hurriedly followed. Dad was already hissing at me and started toward me like a hungry felon. Everything remained civilized though and when I ran out of bread I turned and went inside. But....."waitress!! we're still hungry". They waited around looking at the house for awhile so I obliged and took them out a second helping.

The next day when they came up the bay they swam fast and didn't stop at the waters edge. They all at once walked out of the water and right to me. Hissing I might add. All but the babies, the babies seemed to almost have doubled in size overnight. They chirped. They all acted ravenous, even the mom who usually stays behind and waits for everyone else. This day she was not so gentile.

Today they all stayed in the water and didn't seem nearly as famished. Something in the water was butting up against them and bothering them so they swam away even before finishing their meal. Either a large fish, snake or muskrat.

I didn't get photos the past couple days to show how much they've grown. These photos are from early in the week. I'll do a follow up soon. I know they get fed quite well around the lake. At least three families on just this bay feed them at different times and it seems they have an internal clock. They come to my spot between 1:30 and 2:00 pm. I saw them outside at 7 and went to offer them some bread but they just waited in a yard 3 houses down. Finally a lady came out and fed them, so apparently 7pm is that house. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Early Morning Swan Feed

Today is Saturday and the annual Indian Lake wide garage sale is happening today. Everyone involved is up early getting their tables all ready for the parade of cars, minivans, golf carts, bikes, strollers and pedestrians. I went through my usual routine feeding the dog, my birds and the wild birds that visit our feeder each day before opening for business. As I stood out on the deck a family of swans swam close by and I spoke to them. They quickly started my way expecting to be fed. So I went inside and got out the bread I keep just for such an occasion and went downstairs to the dock hoping they'd be waiting. They had gone down the bay a short distance but came hurriedly back when they saw me.

I had never been so close to such tiny swans before. Three grey and one white little swan swam along side their elegant and very large parents. The little ones were angelic. The male adult came up very close and hissed at me so he got fed first. The babies were in the middle and the mommy stayed just to one side but a little behind the babies. She let the kids eat first. Not so with dad! He was hungry and vocal about it. When I'd run out of bread I noticed some had dropped on the dock and I bent down to push it into the water. Both adults came at me hissing. They are very protective of their babies and rightly so.

I feel honored to have had those few moments with them this morning. I'll blink and those tiny birds will be gangly teens.