When you live in the woods, you cannot help having encounters with wildlife. Some are intentional, such as enjoying the variety of birds that visit the birdfeeders. Some are unintentional, like the Red-tailed hawks who built their nest in a tree off the back corner of our yard. And some are downright unwanted, like the snake I found in the bedroom, the woodpeckers who drill holes in the siding, or the deer that nibble all the leaves from the shrubberies.
Here are a few of my favorite stories about local wildlife.
Granted, chickens aren’t typically considered wildlife, but even so, you don’t expect one to wander into your garage for a visit. This friendly hen hung around the neighborhood for a while. We don’t know what happened to her, but rumor has it she inspired the neighbors to take up chicken rearing.
Living in a house with many large windows, it is not uncommon to hear a thud as some bird accidentally smacks into the glass, so I only investigate the ones who make a particularly impressive thwacks. One day a particularly resounding thwack, followed by a thud, sent me to the window, afraid I would find a dead bird lying in the middle of the yard. Instead I found a squirrel spread-eagled in the grass. He must have fallen from a tree, landed on the roof, rolled to the edge and tumbled to the ground. As I contemplated this, the squirrel twitched, sat up, looked around to make sure nobody had seen him, and scampered to the nearest tree.
One early morning, my husband stepped out on the back deck and discovered a pair of raccoons greedily nibbling the suet at the birdfeeder. Instead of running away, the ‘coons gave him the eyes-averted look of a guilty dog and pretended they had merely been strolling past … no, wait, they were … soaking up the moonbeams. Right! They’d been moonbathing. They hadn’t even thought about eating suet. Honest.
One day while visiting relatives, my husband decided to take my aunt’s dog for a long walk through the fields. They rounded a bend and discovered an opossum standing in the middle of the path. Full of curiosity, the dog trotted forward for a closer look. My husband prepared for a snarling match, but as the dog came close, the possum stiffened, toppled sideways to the ground and lay still. The dog snuffled the critter, then turned to give my husband a look that clearly said, “I think the poor thing just up and died. How strange.” When they passed the spot on their return trip, the deceased possum had mysteriously disappeared.