Wildlife in the City
by Magnhild Easter, Becketwood Member
Around 9 p.m. on a September 2014 night, as we pulled up to Becketwood’s front door we noticed six or seven raccoons gathered on the lawn and two climbing a tree, looking over at us. Cute, but that is too many wandering around at night. We wondered if the coyote eats them, or do coyotes only eat rabbits? Yes, I have seen a coyote three times this summer, usually during the mid-morning hours, walking across the lawn in front of my windows—usually going South. To where? It is a full-sized brown one, going at a fast trot at times as though on a mission.
What lawn in Minneapolis isn’t overrun with squirrels? They are everywhere - chasing each other or climbing trees and going from one to the other. This time of the year they are often way out on a limb, causing it to swing way down while they try to get that last nut to feast on or hide for future winter eating, if they remember where they hid it.
Then we have those cute bunnies. Don’t know how many batches were born this summer, but I have seen a couple of very small ones eating the white clover heads in the grass outside my windows. Yes, they are appealing, but to those folks who have gardens and find parts of their produce destroyed by chewing rabbits they are not so cute!
Our two resident hen wild turkeys always appear together foraging for food in the grass. Last year we had a family of seven poults hatch and watched six of them grow to adulthood over the summer. A single hen constantly tried to steal some of the chicks when they were little; but she was unable to accomplish the theft, as the mother hen kept an eye on her brood and chased the intruder away when she got too close, sometimes fighting her off, leaving feathers flying. We wondered if the intruding hen had lost her brood and was trying to steal a chick for herself from the other family. They all disappeared somewhere over the winter. Only two hens returned this spring, and no family of little ones ever appeared.
Soon summer will end and my favorite wildlife pets, the rufous hummingbirds, will migrate South for the winter. I shall miss them very much. This past July, I acquired a second window attached feeder, an Opus glass feeder with two suction cups to keep it in place. The feeder has two feeding ports and holds a larger amount of liquid than the flying saucer-style one I’ve had for three years, but that saucer feeder is still the hummers’ favorite, maybe because of familiarity? I have wondered about that, since most come to it instead of the new one.
One frequent visitor I call The Sitter, since she is the only one to come to the saucer and sit. She drinks or sips, then brings her head up and swings it around to look at her surroundings before going back to drinking. This routine is repeated three or four times before she flies off. The other is The Inspector, who comes to the new Opus feeder and first tries one port, then the other. That perusal isn’t enough, so off to the saucer feeder she goes, and sips from both before going back to Opus. But before zipping away Inspector flies over around my living room windows to check out the red glassware it sees. Finally off she goes.
There have always been territorial fights, as never have two hummingbirds sat at the same time until just recently. My son was visiting, looking at the feeders, when Sitter flew up, and then another hummer. They took off at each other, but Sitter came back and sat at her usual port. The other one came reluctantly to the second port on the other side of the saucer with wings constantly fluttering, but after quickly satisfying herself took off, leaving Sitter, sitting there sipping and swinging her head around for a total of about two minutes. A first!