I’m surrounded by forest ninjas.
They’re stealthy, incredibly agile, and like all ninjas, they excel at their craft—in this case, larceny from my neighbors’ bird feeders. Our woods are full of them.
I’m talking about jet-black, bushy-tailed tree rodents, the local teenage mutant ninja squirrels. They’re not all teens, of course. But every one of them is indeed a mutant.
Continue reading “Teenage Mutant Ninja Squirrels”
Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.
I just love rotting trees.
They’re wildlife magnets. I’m particularly fond of one such tree just outside my window. It has held my attention since 2015 when Pileated Woodpeckers nested there.
But the snag’s rotten story began about a decade earlier when we had a limb removed.
Continue reading “The Balcony”
Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.
An eagle perched near my window.
I see Bald Eagles often, usually some distance from the house. When eagles do land nearby, they’ll scoot if I simply step to a window. So when I saw the eagle in my tree, I stood back from the glass, as usual. But after an hour, I just had to try for a closer look through my camera.
With tiny, slow steps I moved to the sliding glass door. The eagle didn’t seem to notice. Then I inched the door open a crack. The bird didn’t budge. I pushed again, just enough to get the lens outside.
The door groaned, and the eagle turned and looked my way.
Continue reading “Perched to Ponder”
Image Credits: Carol Doeringer, pacificnorthwestkate.
The katydid crept cautiously.
She was scaling our home’s vinyl siding. Slowly and deliberately, she would lift a leg. Sometimes, she waved it in the air. Then her foot patted the siding several times before committing to a landing spot. She seemed to be checking for obstacles like a sight-impaired person might use a cane to survey the sidewalk.
I peered closer. Then I saw the reason for her wary walking.
Continue reading “Silk Crossing”
I never cared much for spiders.
This summer was no exception. Our house is in the woods, and I’ve become accustomed to seeing webs draped here, there, and everywhere. But this year’s spider season seemed over the top, especially when measured by the quantity of spider poop I scrubbed—repeatedly and begrudgingly—off the siding.
Then, one little silk spinner made me reconsider my arachnid animus.
Continue reading “Spin, Spin, Spin”
We’ve all seen them on our pets’ faces and on squirrels and other rodents, rabbits, beavers, walruses, and some other mammals. Until recently, I didn’t give whiskers much thought. Then I learned they’re not just facial hair… and they’re not always on faces.
Continue reading “More than a Mustache”
I thought a feather was stuck in the flicker’s bill.
He wiped it on the rim of a tree cavity. But the feather didn’t budge. Over and again, this juvenile Northern Flicker swiped and wiped his bill.
Finally, he managed to drop the feather… only to repeat the process with another!
Continue reading “What’s with that Feather?”
I was in awe of the eagle’s mighty…
I was never particularly enthralled by bird poop. I mean, ick. On the car. On the lawn chairs. And once, years ago, on my shoulder. Besides the occasional irritation at a windshield splat, I never gave bird droppings any serious thought.
That is, until yesterday. I happened to be filming when a young Bald Eagle lifted his tail.
Continue reading “When an Eagle’s Gotta Go”
The young woodpecker made a proud show of his loot.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are well equipped to forage. Their bills are built to chisel, hammer, and drill. They have long, sticky tongues with barbed tips—perfect for reaching into crevices and pulling out prey.
These birds are omnivores, happy to eat seeds, nuts, fruit, and meat. They’re both aggressive and tenacious. A few months ago, I filmed a Red-bellied Woodpecker pounding the life out of a bat before flying it away for consumption. At feeders, these woodpeckers will swipe peanuts from under squirrels’ noses. And when they find a hard-shelled seed or nut, they know exactly what to do: Wedge it into a tree crevice and hammer. They’ll catch the pieces with a cupped wing or trap them in belly and breast feathers pressed into the tree.
So, when the immature woodpecker leaned into a crevice with a nut in his bill, I expected to see a speedy pound-and-swallow maneuver.
Instead, I saw a fumble.
Continue reading “Fumble and Search”
Two small patches of white caught my eye.
Even 400 yards away, they were unmistakable: A Bald Eagle’s head and tail. The bird was on a log that had become embedded in the muddy perimeter of Eagle Island. That’s the aptly named bit of high land that remained after our stretch of the Kalamazoo River was dammed decades ago. Eagles are a common sight here. Only, this eagle was behaving somewhat oddly.
Continue reading “One Ambitious Eagle”