Life leaves its mark

We are really enjoying our front yard entertainment!  This winter, we have a Downy woodpecker and Red-breasted Nuthatch couple enjoying the suet.  The nuthatch makes such a soft quiet sound in comparison to the chickadees.

Today, Chris witnessed a fast chase through the trees by a small hawk flying after a small bird.  Don’t know if it was successful or not.  The bird feeders were very quiet for a long time afterward.  Tonight, Chris turned on the front porch light and could make out a shadowy creature beneath one of the feeders.  I spied the white stripe on its head, and yep!  Our neighbourhood skunk is out foraging again.

Lots of little bird feet
Lots of little bird feet, mostly from American Goldfinches (only because all the spots are taken on the feeders by their 50 odd numbers) and Dark-eyed Juncos which seem to prefer feeding on the ground.  Chickadees prefer to grab a seed directly from the feeder and fly into a nearby tree to crack it open.  They don’t like taking from the ground likely because they prefer the biggest seeds.  The seeds on the ground are the rejects from above:  smaller sunflower seeds tossed out by picky eaters.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Oh yes, and there is a strict hierarchy with chickadees.  The dominant gets to fly to the feeder first, then back to the tree to eat, the next in line then goes, and this, one at a time, never two together.  if one mistakingly lands with another from a different angle, the subordinate flies off quickly without even taking a seed.  Then, once the more dominant flies off, the subordinate is able to come back.  It seems to prevent fighting and unnecessary injury that could make them easy prey.  I have only once witnessed a fight once  and it seemed quite violent, at each other in a flurry of half flying, scrambling, down to the ground, up again.  Don’t know how they fight (beaks perhaps?) but it was impressive to see.

 

this may be a Saw-Whet owl catching a mouse
Top to bottom:  squirrel, cat or skunk and, first time we’ve ever seen this:  possibly a Saw-Whet owl catching a mouse.  These owls are SO small (and cute: check out pictures online)!  Wing span marks from 21 cm (8.5 inches) at left to 32 cm (12.5 inches) far right.
up close
up close
squirrel tracks
squirrel tracks.  Remember when we had 5-7 last year?  Only one this year, and he just started coming out.  We have baffles on so as long as the snow doesn’t get too deep, we shouldn’t have over-eating squirrels.
cat tracks
cat or skunk tracks. We never see them in the day.  They are noctural hunters (cats for mice and skunks for leftover seeds)
more cat tracks
Left: cat tracks. Under bush are bird and mice tracks
mouse tracks - you can see the tail marks
mouse tracks – you can see the tail marks
fox tracks colliding with human tracks
fox tracks joining human tracks
cat tracks on left
cat or skunk tracks
meandering cat tracks
meandering cat tracks
fox tracks converging on a pounce spot
fox tracks converging on a pounce spot
wonder if he caught a mouse
wonder if he caught a mouse?
many mouse holes in the snow
many mouse holes in the snow. Perhaps air vents? or peep holes.  No tracks leading in and out, so it is interesting.
fox tracks leading to forest
fox tracks leading to forest
rumply field next door
rumply dormant potato field next door
rabbit tracks in the woods
rabbit tracks in the woods
Dead tree provides food for woodpeckers
Dead tree provides food for woodpeckers
see the shavings
you can see the shavings
um okay not waht I expected to find
um, okay, not what I expected to find in a forest…
ya it's a lobster head
Yup! It’s a lobster head.  Probably dropped by a crow or other big bird.
lots of mouse tracks around it
lots of mouse tracks around it.  Yum yum yum!