Suburban Wildlife

After a busy (and successful) end of semester #2 of grad school, I’m finally back to this blog.  Now I’m fully into my summer session of school… but more about that later.  I’ll be diving back into politics, tea parties, and such later.  For now, I want to write about a lighter topic.

There’s a surprising amount of wildlife in my suburban neighborhood.  We’ve lived in our house for almost eight years, and I still find myself surprised by a new critter in the backyard.  Sure, there are lots of squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, birds, worms, and bugs.  (I love sitting in the hammock and watching them go nuts over the cherries in our cherry tree.)  But we’ve even had the occasional groundhog.  A couple months ago a wild turkey hopped (flew over?) the fence into and out of the yard.  Yes, even an occasional skunk (blech) wanders through the neighborhood.

One of many bunnies (aka garden chompers)

Patio Chipmunk

Yup, that's a yellowish groundhog. Aren't they supposed to be brown?

What makes it more fun is watching our kids get excited about all of our creepy-crawlies, feathered friends, and furry neighbors.  Our four year old Timothy likes to name them.  Last summer There was Bob the Caterpillar.  We kept Bob in a plastic jar in the house where he built a cocoon.  Tim believes that Bob later emerged.  In reality, Bob did not survive, but we just did not have the heart to tell Tim.  And yes, I still feel a twinge of guilt whenever Tim sees a butterfly and says, “Hi Bob!”  (Shhhh… don’t tell Tim.)

Bob the Caterpillar - Building his Cocoon

This fall, we met Ock the Crow.  (His name comes from the sound that a crow makes.)  We see Ock in our walks around the neigborhood and in our travels.  I’m not sure how Tim knows Ock from other crows, but he insists that he does.

My favorite is Mr. Squirrel Nut.  He’s one of the bushy-tailed grey squirrels who hops around our yard.  Occasionally, he makes a stop on our picnic table or patio, taunting the cats and intriguing the kids who watch him through the window.  I’m not sure if he’s the one who has been chewing through my chain link fence ties, though.  According to Tim, the damage was done by Mr. Squirrel Nut’s girlfriend or other bushy-tailed friends.

Gawking at Mr. Squirrel Nut

Recently, a pair of finches built a nest over our porch light.  A sparrow did the same last year, and I installed a wireless camera to watch the birds.  This year we turned on the camera, and were excited to see four small eggs in the nest.  We would quietly greet Mama Bird as we entered and exited our house.  Eventually, she got used to us and quit flying away.  We eagerly awaited the birth of the baby birds.  Sadly, that was not to be.  Tim was visibly saddened when I told him that another bird must have stolen the eggs.  We suspect a blue jay may be the culprit… I don’t trust those blue jays.

A few days ago we discovered the luckiest toad to ever visit our yard.  He barely missed getting run over by the lawn mower.  To be fair, it was getting dark out, and I didn’t see him until he hopped out of the way.  Tim immediately named him Froggy-woggy Toad. I did not let Tim take him inside to the bathtub.  More good luck for Froggy-woggy.

We await more discoveries.  And more interesting animal names.

Leave a comment


  1. springtimesoul

     /  May 21, 2010

    Wait till you see the ground hog in our new neighborhood–big as a beaver! I wonder how big our garden will have to be to have anything left for us. And we, too, have a bunny. Tell me again, husband, why you want a vegetable garden?

    • The groundhog never bothered our garden. The bunnies on the other hand chowed down on everything but the tomatoes our first year. Now the garden has a fence.

  2. Mary Christensen

     /  May 22, 2010

    Delightful reading…and I enjoyed the pics too. It’s great that your backyard has so much wildlife and that you enjoy it with the boys. Even a wild turkey! You don’t expect to see them in town. I confess that I don’t like blue jays…all because as a small child in the garden with my mother we witnessed one flying off with a young bird in its mouth, being frantically attacked by the mother bird.

    • Yikes. Not a pleasant sight, but one that necessarily occurs often in nature. I guess the blue jays have to eat, too. Just wish they could be a bit quieter. Sometimes I think that I’d rather listen to Ock the Crow than a squawking blue jay.

  3. Tom from Guilderland

     /  May 23, 2010

    Out here I see wild turkeys, deer occasionally red fox or a rarer sighting of one of the bald eagles nesting on the Watervliet reservoir.

    • Wow! I’d love to see a bald eagle in the wild. Timothy occasionally asks me about eagles. I wonder what name he’d give to an eagle?


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