Monday, May 3, 2010

Newcomers on the Unfarm

We have, recently, welcomed three newcomers to the Unfarm: a starling, a crow, and a squirrel. Admittedly, these are not exotic creatures, but they are wildlife and welcome all the same.

I know that most people do not like starlings, claiming them to be invasive pests, but I do not think it fair to blame the birds for something they have no control over. While there may be a secret headquarters somewhere, where all the starlings gather once or twice a year to sit around some huge table and talk about their plans for world domination, I am skeptical. I simply enjoy the starlings for what they are: birds with yellow beaks and beautiful feathers. The ladies (Penny, Daisy and Sakari) also enjoy the starling's visits because his food of choice is the suet, and he tends to be a messy eater, dropping bits of the suet down to the girls who wait underneath the feeder.

The crow is not new to the neighborhood, just to the Unfarm. We have had crows living somewhere in the vicinity for as long as I can remember, but they tended to stick to the upper branches of the taller trees, or to the sky when mobbing one of the resident red-tailed hawks. To have a crow actually land on the hook in the yard that holds the feeders is something new. He came by a few days ago for a short visit, and then again today when he stayed much longer. He was trying to find a way to get to the squirrel food and made several aborted attempts while moving from branch to hook and back to branch again. The squirrel feeder is easy enough for the squirrels and jays to reach, but I think the crow felt a bit too large to land on the ledge of the feeder. I put some food out on top of the dog run fence and he was eventually able to land close enough to eat it.

And the squirrel. I know that this is a new squirrel because he is tiny. All of our regulars are rather large (or "enormous" if you ask my brother) so this little guy stood out. He didn't brave the feeder in the back where most of the larger squirrels congregate, choosing instead to scavenge for little bits of seed that the birds drop from the feeder in the front yard. He wasn't having much luck, since the juncos tend to pick up anything the chickadees or nuthatches drop, so I put out a small pile just for him and he seemed to enjoy that. Although, with the amount of food we leave out for all the various animals I would not be surprised if he doesn't remain small for long.

Meanwhile, the garden is sprouting a healthy crop of weeds. I would love to get out there and start weeding - it is, honestly, one of my favorite things to do - but I can't. April showers may bring May flowers elsewhere but in the pacific northwest the only thing April showers brings is more showers. This wouldn't be much of a problem if our soil wasn't pure clay. I think it is only a matter of time before potters come knocking at our door with a shovel in hand, ready to scoop up supplies for their next project. Perhaps I exaggerate - it is probably not pure clay. It's probably something like 98% clay, 1% silt and 1% sand.

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