The night belongs to the wild ones on the river, they leave few signs. Mostly small holes reveal where the skunks have searched for grubs or larger holes made by the Rabbits. There is a wide variety of scat, Possums, Otters, and Coyotes, plus many others. There is one spot every dog on the levee adds to, they cannot resist it. Nor are they able to resist Otter scat, it must smell like an expensive perfume, not the cheap over the counter stuff.
Once in awhile a larger clue is left, one was created a few days ago. On top of the levee where the swamp willows meet the walkway is a padded down area. The tall grass is laying flat on the ground covering a 4-foot x 10-foot area. It is a nice place to rest during the day, shaded well with a slight breeze lifting up from the water 10 feet down the slope. It’s not out of reasoning why a large wild one would rest or perhaps spend the entire night asleep.
At night along the river in the shadows is peaceful, only once in a while will someone walk a dog, or return home from a visit. That type of activity is most often accompanied by a flashlight, they make a slight amount of noise, tipping us they are not on a dishonest mission.
It’s difficult to tell from the appearance of the matted area exactly what animal constructed it. From the size, it’s simple to eliminate the smaller grub searchers. It was made by a larger night hunter, I’m guessing it is the Red Fox.
There are no feathers, or other remains to lead one to believe supper is consumed there, it appears to be a resting spot. Further down the levee on the roadside, nearly to the road is a spot that was covered with feathers. One hundred feet south of that place was found the remains of a Rabbit. There were no remains around the feathers, it may indicate the victim was carried off to a den; but it was a large bird, a Turkey or Vulture.
I don’t think many preditors food variety includes Vultures, or for that matter, wild Turkeys; the black feathers are too large to have been attached to a Crow.
A wise choice would be to set up a game camera on a tree overlooking the matted area. Skunkpuppy avoids the spot, other times she would mark it after sniffing for several minutes. That indicates to me it may be used by a preditor she has respect for, it’s not a Skunk. She does not have the sense to stay away from them, hence the name, I suspect it is the Red Fox. Time will tell, it will be figured out, someone will see it or a camera will catch it.
Birdseed has been set out again in the garden, I convinced Mrs. Lebec to give me another shot. She is in agreement as long as I don’t let it get out of control, like a six-year-old I promised. She has the memory of an Elephant, maybe not able to recall every single item but she can hit the highlights.
Last time several years ago when I was gainfully employed, (over 10 years in fact) actually being a contributing member of society, several hundred possibly a thousand birds made a daily stop in the garden. Leaving for work at 5 am the birds would be sitting on the overhead wires waiting for the guy with the bucket waving his arms. Turkeys were waiting under the trees in the shadows, Crows were perched by the dozens in the large Pecan tree, all of the little birds were shoulder to shoulder overhead.
The cars are parked under those wires in places. Every time a bird takes to the air all excess weight is jettisoned to aid in takeoff. One bird may land and take to the air on those wires several dozen times in an hour. The vehicles looked as if they were artwork of the latest craze.
The only change in population was a steady increase, which in turn demanded more seed. The birds were consuming 20 pounds each week, some were noticeably gaining substantial weight.
Birds aren’t the only consumers of seed, the Racoons went directly to the source, a bucket in the garage. Seed was evenly distributed to every nook and cranny, the floor was covered as they tore open the spare bags as well. Thinking the problem was easy to access a large bucket with a snap-on lid was employed. It ended the garage raids but the outside birds were demanding timely feed. After dark the furry creatures ate the seed, there was a vast assortment, the Owls in the Pecan tree took advantage of what was acting as bait.
One morning a small Owl was found beneath a power pole with a broken neck, apparently colliding with it. The wind was blowing hard that night, for an inexperienced young bird it spelled disaster. “Have you noticed the increase in the bird population Jacques?” A neighbor inquired to which I answered: “Yeah, I think they live across the road in the trees.” That may have been correct, but something had to be done after she said, “one morning it looked like someone dumped a gallon of white paint in the wind, it was all over everything,”
Oh man, the gig was up, “Yeah I saw an Egret on top of that pole one morning,” I replied as if it was expected.
The Egret would perch up on top of that pole to take advantage of the small rodents eating the seed, it would move from the pole to the ground and wait. There were birds everywhere, that was soon to end, “You need to wash my windshield before I leave,” the commander ordered me “I’ve had it with your bird feeding.” She added, “It’s disgusting, everyone is talking about it, and you’re the cause of it all.” I could no longer drive, and she stopped buying seed, eventually, everything slowed down a few notches. Most of the birds left, I was left alone in the garden once again.
One of the boxes was completely overtaken by weeds last week, pulling them out was the next task. It’s been 5-6 years since the last bird invasion, but that’s not to say it’s been forgotten by anyone. Pulling weeds this week an egg was nestled deep next to the Oregano, too large for a Chicken, too small for a Duck, it was not recognized by nature boy.
Much like the matted down area on the levee, this mystery was left to speculation, Peacock, Guinea Hen, or a Wood Duck? I’m not sure, I suspect a Peahen, but shouldn’t it be at least a big as a Turkey’s?
Her decision to take me along to Lowes with her paid off, we came home with 20 pounds of wild birdseed. “I hope this is not a mistake like it was last time,” it sounded like an accusation. “It probably won’t be,” was the confident voice behind the words. “Probably? That’s what worries me.” She said with a grip of death on the steering wheel.
The seed was spread, there is no feeder so it was piled on a small table in the garden, on a brace of another box, and the remainder scattered on the clay I got that was supposed to be dirt. (That is another blog).
The Culligan guy was finishing up his work, and I was merely hanging out following directions not to bother him. I protested by stating that he may need my help, “he doesn’t.” was all she said. I sat there waiting for the birds to return, as of 2 this afternoon they hadn’t, I’m expecting big things tomorrow and the next day, none the less.
Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance