About 3 years ago, we gave up apartment life and rented a house in a woodsy, out-of-the-way little neighborhood called JoAnn Manor. It’s a quiet neighborhood built sometime in the late 1950’s. Most of our neighbors have been here since the 70’s, take care of their homes and plant gorgeous gardens. Nearly everyone has a dog. There are retirees and new families, and people like us who just love the idea of not being boxed in. We actually found this house with the help of my mother’s lifelong friend, Shirley, who lives around the block and is without a doubt my fairy godmother.
Now the end of the longest road, Big Hollow, ends in a large pond. This pond is home to turtles, water birds and every other creepy pond critter. As a result we are visited frequently by furry, feathery, feisty denizens that share our yard space. I thought I would introduce you to our extended wildlife family:
The rabbits: There is an entrance to an established warren right at the foot of our giant fir tree (also known as the bird condo). Hazel is the oldest – he is very large and grey and has been here since at least the first year we moved in. He is obviously named after The Watership Down Hazel and seems to be the grand-daddy rabbit in the family.
Heike is a younger female. She has a very distinct golden patch on the back of her neck. She is fearless and comes out during the day to feed on fruit and seeds from the birdfeeder. She has come within 2 feet of me while I was gardening and watched me for quite a while. Heike means “ruler of an estate”. And she certainly is in charge.
Morrissey is Heike’s brother. He has a darker, bluish coat – very goth for a rabbit. Thus Morrissey suits him. He is not a fearless as she is, but he will follow her lead.
Tiny is well…tiny. I am not sure if he is Heike’s child or little brother. He certainly has her fearlessness.
The crunchy heads: We have 2 grey squirrels and a chipmunk that are here the most. The obese older squirrel is Chunk. He lives in the oak tree next to the driveway and prefers filberts. He is old and has some scarring across his back. He is a ballsy old man squirrel. I have caught him swinging upside down from the birdfeeder with his old grey head jammed inside gulping the seeds. The first time, I came out and yelled at him to get down. He just looked at me and then went on gulping. I had to put a Slinky around the birdfeeder pole to keep him from eating all the seed in one day.
His little skinny brother is Slink. Slink is lightning fast and prefers to swipe food then run away to eat.
Crunchy Head, the chipmunk travels via concrete gap near the garage door. He will indulge in the fallen bird seed even though the birds all scold him. He is called Crunchy Head because my old dog, Doc, would try to go after him. We also joked that when Doc was sleeping, he was dreaming of eating Crunchy Head.
Crunchy Head almost lost his life once to Natty, the Hawk. Natty (and Natty’s lady friend) have been here more than once. I call him Natty after Natty Bumppo (Hawkeye). He had a bit if a wrestling match with Crunchy Head in the back yard, but did not succeed in making him an entree.
The birds: The fir tree bid condo is home to many varieties of feathered neighbors. There are the Mertzes – Fred and Ethel – the cardinal couple (who did have babies this past summer).
The yellow finches, Sonny & Cher. (We also have black and white finches).
The red house finch, Morty.
Wilson, the white woodpecker.
Harry & June, the doves.(Too flighty to stay for a picture. They are shy.)
This is a mama turkey hen. She built her nest close-by somewhere and patrolled our back yard for a bit. Daz went to take a nap on a warm early summer day. He was sleeping in the chaise lounge and woke up to find her directly in his face. He claimed she was eyeing him like a piece of corn!
I am so happy to share my space with these wild ones. We don’t interfere with them other than putting our birdfeed or fresh basil sometimes for the rabbits. We do not hunt ot try to frighten them. They often share their seeds and fruit peacefully and I love watching them. It gives me a sense of family. I can’t wait to see what next Spring brings – new birds, new bunnies, new friends.