Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter Birds Feeding

Bridget took some really nice photos today of our birds feeding after our winter storm last night.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Story of Apple

The Story of Apple

She bounds through the woods, jumping over fallen trees and dodging branches, with her white tail high in the air.  This is our first glimpse of our resident white-tail deer in the fall of 2001.  We had recently completed building our new home and our property borders “open space” with its many acres of woods, streams and ponds.  A deer path runs along the edge of the property which has seen many years of use and is well defined. 
We see this beautiful creature nearly every day.  She is distinctive in size and markings from the other deer passing through the property.  She has a presence of command about her as she takes the lead on the deer path as others follow and we see her leading the small herd through the woods.   As time goes by, we put out some old apples on a rock not far from the deer path and one day we see her there at the rock enjoying her evening meal.  She becomes comfortable coming to the property and slowly we can approach her and throw her slices of her favorite food…apples.  Her tail wags and her head bobs with the throw of each slice.  She thoroughly enjoys any variety of apple and we think she would eat a whole bushel if made available.   We name her “Apple” and she is the matriarch of the herd.

In the Spring of 2002, a small fawn arrives by her side one morning.   After several months, we see that it is a male deer and he receives the simple name of “Baby Boy”.   Apple and Baby Boy come to the property every day through the Fall and Winter and into the Spring of 2003.   His atlers begin to grow and he will soon leave his mother’s side and begin his own adventurers. 

Apple remains and continues to oversee the small herd.  Without a doubt, she is in charge.  Strangers passing through who are not part of her clan are quickly chased away.  Anyone at the feeding area who does not belong gets a quick kick.

Apple’s next surviving fawn will be “Cider”, a doe, born in the Spring of 2007.  Cider becomes very special to us.   She has such a wonderful personality.  She is very curious and never fearful of us.  If we allowed it, she would eat her apples right out of our hand, but she is a wild animal and must stay wild, so we maintain our distance.

Through the coming years, Cider rarely leaves Apple’s side.  They are constant companions and as Cider matures, she is the spitting image of her mother.  It is wonderful to see them grooming each other and they will often sit down in the yard together. 
In the Spring of 2009, Cider gives birth to her first fawn, a buck, we name “Spicy”.  Also, that year, Apple has a fawn, a doe, named “Pie”.  The herd is growing and two fawns running and playing in the yard bring us much joy and entertainment.

In 2011, Apple gave birth to another fawn.  We called the fawn “Dumpling” not knowing if it was a boy or girl.   As Fall approached, Dumpling started to show some antler bumps and he continued to develop into a handsome buck (although he may not be too happy with the name he was given!)  Dumpling stayed by Apple’s side for over a year.  He developed an amazing rack for a 1 year old and left the herd in the Fall of 2012.

Apple and Cider continued on together maintaining their close bond.  They both loved apples, especially red delicious.  Since they were inseparable, and looking so alike, the one way we could tell the difference was how Apple squinted when we threw an apple slice to her.  She never forgot the incident when a rogue piece of apple hit her head and the juice of the apple got in her eye.  It was so funny to see her squint!

Early in the Summer of 2012, Apple appeared with her latest fawn.  We named her Flag as she arrived for the first time on the 4th of July.  We were so happy that Apple, who by now was probably close to 13-14 years old, if not older, made it thru another birth.   Then came the day when she did not come to the property for feeding.  “She will come” we told each other.  More days went by, and then weeks, and we came to realize we had lost our beloved Apple, probably to old age. 

“But where is Flag” we would ask.   One early morning at the feeding area, we see Flag with Cider.  It is clear that Cider has taken over raising Flag.  Flag is groomed by Cider and they are continuously by each other’s side.  We are happy that Flag has been adopted and that Cider will watch over her.   Cider is now the matriarch of the small herd and Apple lives on in all her offspring.

This is written in memory of Apple.  Wild until the day she died and much loved.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

This Sharp-Shinned Hawk made a visit to the yard yesterday.

  • Behavior

    Sharp-shinned Hawks are agile fliers that speed through dense woods to surprise their prey, typically songbirds. They do not stoop on prey from high overhead. They may also pounce from low perches. When flying across open areas they have a distinctive flap-and-glide flight style.
  • Habitat

    Sharp-shinned Hawks breed in deep forests. During migration, look for them in open habitats or high in the sky, migrating along ridgelines. During the nonbreeding season they hunt small birds and mammals along forest edges and sometimes at backyard bird feeders, causing a wave of high-pitched alarm calls among the gathered songbirds.

Baltimore Oriole Nest

For the first time this year, we had a beautiful pair of Baltimore Orioles in the yard.  They have such a beautiful song.  I discovered their nest, hanging high above our driveway, when all the leaves came off the trees.

Like many other birds, the female Baltimore Oriole is the primary nest builder. Making a hanging nest made from plant fibers and suspended from a branch 6 to 90 feet above ground. While it's quite common for them to return each year to the same territory it's rare that they will use the same nest itself. They often take parts of old nest to build a new one, so you may see them at the old nest site.

Below photo from web showing Baltimore Oriole and his nest.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dumpling 2012

Our resident male deer, Dumpling, is all grown up.  He was born last year and he has turned into quite the stud!  The first shot was taken in August with velvet on his antlers.  The second picture was taken September 28, 2012.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Snake Skin

Found this snake skin in our shed this morning.  Oh, my goodness, could this be the mate to our one-eyed black rat snake?   I was in the shed 2 days ago and this skin was not there.   Hope he has left.  Any volunteers who would like to come and look for him in the shed are welcome!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New Arrival for July 4, 2012 - Apple's Fawn

Today, July 4th, at 6:00 am, we had the first glimpse of Apple's fawn.  In honor of Independence Day, we have named her "Flag".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Return of Black Rat Snake

I first posted a pic of the Black Rat Snake in June 2009.  When we saw another one in June of 2010, we wondered if it could be the same one except this one was blind in one eye.   Now, 2 years later, the snake with just one eye was on the flagstone in front of the shed again.  He was rubbing his face against the stones trying to remove some of his dead skin around his head and neck.  While I watched him perform this task, he was able to remove a large piece of dead skin from the top of his head...including a thick mass which was covering his blind eye.   Since he has apparently made a home under the shed, we will have to give him a name.  Please send me your suggestions! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012


At this time of year we have several skunks come to yard looking of grubs and worms in the lawn.   This one was a bit unusual in his coloring as he is almost all white.

Garter Snake

After a night of rain, I found this snake sitting on top of fern.

The habitat of the garter snake ranges from forests, fields, and prairies to streams, wetlands, meadows, marshes, and ponds, and it is often found near water. It is a semi-aquatic animal like most snakes. It is found at altitudes from sea level to mountain locations. Their diet consists mainly of amphibians and earthworms, but also fish, small birds, and rodents. Garter snakes are effective at catching fast-moving creatures like fish and tadpoles. Animals that eat the Common Garter Snake include large fish (such as bass and catfish), bullfrogssnapping turtles, larger snakes, hawksraccoonsfoxeswild turkeys and domestic cats and dogs.

The saliva of a garter snake may be toxic to amphibians and other small animals. For humans, a bite is not dangerous, though it may cause slight itching, burning, and/or swelling. Most garter snakes also secrete a foul-smelling fluid from postanal glands when handled or harmed.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wild Rabbit

This little guy has been around the yard for a couple of weeks.  He's a good weed eater!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Look Whoo-Whoo came to visit today

About 8am today the Barred Owl flew in and landed at the edge of the woods.   About 15 minutes later another one flew to an adjoining tree.  It was wonderful to see both of them.  We hear them calling at night and early morning.

The Barred Owl hunts by waiting on a high perch at night, or flying through the woods and swooping down on prey. A Barred Owl can sometimes be seen hunting before dark. This typically occurs during the nesting season or on dark and cloudy days. Daytime activity is often most prevalent when Barred Owls are raising chicks. However, this species still generally hunts near dawn or dusk.

The Barred Owl's nest is often in a tree cavity, often ones created by pileated woodpeckers it may also take over an old nesting site made previously by a red-shouldered hawk, cooper's hawk, crow, or squirrel. It is a permanent resident, but may wander after the nesting season. If a nest site has proved suitable in the past they will often reuse it as the birds are non-migratory. In the United States, eggs are laid from early-January in southern Florida to mid-April in northern Maine, and consist of 2 to 4 eggs per clutch. Eggs are brooded by the female with hatching taking place approximately 4 weeks later. Young owls fledge four to five weeks after hatching. These owls have few predators, but young, unwary owls may be taken by cats. The most significant predator of Barred Owls is the Great Horned Owl. The Barred Owl has been known to live up to 10 years in the wild and 23 years in captivity.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wood Frogs

Spring is definitely in the air for these two love frogs!!   While clearing away leaves near the driveway, this pair appeared in the driveway.  They were probably headed for the stream or small pond in the wetland area.  My thanks to Bridget for seeing them hoping down the driveway.

The Wood frog is the state amphibian of New York.
Similar to other northern frogs that hibernate close to the surface in soil and/or leaf litter, wood frogs can tolerate the freezing of their blood and other tissues. Frogs can survive many freeze/thaw events during winter if not more than about 65% of the total body water freezes.
Wood frongs are one of the first amphibians to emerge for breeding right when the snow melts, along with Spring Peepers.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

White Blaze on Deer's Snout

Today we had a group of 5 deer stop by the property.  On one of the deer she has an unusual white blaze on her snout.  Of all the deer that have come by the property this is the first time we have seen this marking.  One of her young also has a slight white marking on her snout.