Wildlife Around Home

Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail

Although I haven’t been spending much time in my backyard this summer, I have spotted some interesting wildlife around. My flower garden this year seems to be a dismal failure at attracting butterflies or hummingbirds; most of the Cabbage Whites I observe keep flying over the yard rather than nectaring on any flowers, and the only other species I’ve seen lately were a Clouded Sulphur and a dark butterfly that might have been a White Admiral (I was looking out into the bright sunshine and couldn’t see it very well). Both of these were fly-overs, and spent no time investigating any of the flowers. I haven’t seen any odonates around since I noticed a female Common Whitetail in my neighbour’s front yard one day about a month ago while we were chatting.

Although not a yard bird, I did see the neighbourhood Merlin after a four-month absence on July 27th near the entrance to Emerald Meadows on Eagleson Road. It was perching on the same streetlight I’d seen one on a while ago. Interestingly, I saw a Merlin along Eagleson Road a few days later – perhaps the same one.

Merlin

Merlin

The best new addition to my yard list this year was this American Toad also observed on July 27th. I was looking out at the yard when I noticed him hop out from the grass onto the patio. I immediately grabbed my camera and ran outside to take some pictures. As he is quite huge and our property doesn’t back onto any green space, it is amazing that he managed to survive in our subdivision for so long without falling victim to a car or outdoor cat. The toad sat on my patio for about an hour; when I checked on him a little later he had disappeared, and I haven’t seen him since. Toads are beneficial to gardens as they eat a lot of undesirable bugs!

American Toad

American Toad

A family of cardinals consisting of two parents and one youngster have been regulars at my feeder. The male sings early in the morning and at dusk, and I often see them in my front tree.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

On the same date a Yellow Warbler showed up in my front tree. I have now seen one in that tree in July 2010, July 2013 and now July 2014. This was the most interesting yard bird I’ve seen since the pair of Common Nighthawks observed between June 24th and July 4th flying over the street at dusk. Then, two days later I looked out the bedroom window and saw this:

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

I’d heard a strange noise from one of the House Sparrows and noticed that the Cooper’s Hawk had another one in its talons – perhaps the partner or offspring of the male House Sparrow making the noise. I had often seen a male House Sparrow in the company of a juvenile, and was dismayed to think that the young bird had fallen prey to the Cooper’s Hawk. Still, I was thrilled to see the hawk on the back fence as this is only the second time one has visited my yard. The photos are not of the best quality as I was shooting through a dirty window. At some point the hawk must have noticed me watching him, for he flew off with the sparrow a couple of minutes later.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

On a cuter note, at least two chipmunks have been visiting me all summer. One comes up to the back deck looking for handouts while the other jumps right onto the bird feeder and vacuums up the seeds. One of them has dug a hole in my front garden, though I rarely see him there.

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

A baby rabbit has started visiting me as well, and one evening I poked my head out the back door to take some photos. I first saw him on July 26th and he has been visiting my yard on and off ever since, mostly first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail

He seems to like weeds, in which case he is welcome to stay as long as he likes!

Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail

I haven’t spent much time looking for moths, but yesterday I came home and found this interesting moth below the light on the front of my house. This bird-dropping mimic can be differentiated from the similar-looking Beautiful Wood-Nymph by the scalloped dark band along outer margin of forewing. According to Bugguide.net, the larvae feed on Evening Primrose, grapes, and other herbs, while the adults probably do not feed.

Pearly Wood-Nymph

Pearly Wood-Nymph

After seeing so many interesting bugs and birds and mammals around just on a casual basis, it makes me wonder who else is visiting my yard when I’m not around!

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