Sunday, December 22, 2013

Garter Snake In Late December

Almost stepped on this garter snake in the front yard today. For December 22 it is unusually warm today (63 degrees), and the warm weather undoubtedly brought him out of his winter hiding place.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

8 Point Buck

A beautiful 8 point buck came to the property this morning.  He eat his corn next to resident doe, Blaze, without bothering her which was a surprise because it is mating season.   He has been here before in previous years and is probably the father of some of our resident deer.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pie and Pip

Had a visit today from resident deer, Pie, and her young fawn buck, Pip.   Here are a couple of pictures while they were waiting for their afternoon snack!!

Pip and his mother, Pie

Resident deer, Pie

Pie's fawn, Pip


Pip and Pie

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars Forecast Winter Weather?

According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is (i.e., the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter. But is it true?
  • Between 1948 and 1956, Dr. Curran's average brown-segment counts ranged from 5.3 to 5.6 out of the 13-segment total, meaning that the brown band took up more than a third of the woolly bear's body. As those relatively high numbers suggested, the corresponding winters were milder than average.
  • Woolly bears, like other caterpillars, hatch during warm weather from eggs laid by a female moth.
  • Mature woolly bears search for overwintering sites under bark or inside cavities of rocks or logs. (That's why you see so many of them crossing roads and sidewalks in the fall.)
  • This medium-size moth, with yellowish-orange and cream-colored wings spotted with black, is common from northern Mexico throughout the United States and across the southern third of Canada.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A True Survivor

This buck first appeared at the feeding area last winter but it was heartbreaking to see him struggle through the snow because he has either a broken leg or dislocated shoulder of his front leg.   He flops his front leg out when he walks and cannot put much pressure on it but he seems to have adapted to this injury.  He also seems to have deformed antlers and I'm not sure if it is a genetic or nutritional issue (although he looks healthy).   It is a testament to his strength and determination that he has survived. 

From the University of Missouri: 

Antler deformations can also be caused by leg injuries, which often result from deer-vehicle accidents. Front leg injuries coincide with antler deformation on the same side as the injury — a front left leg injury will affect the left antler. Rear leg injuries coincide with antler deformation on the opposite side — a rear left leg injury will affect the right antler. Depending on the severity, injuries to the leg may result in deformations to the antler in consecutive years or the deer may make a full recovery. The biological mechanism controlling this relationship between leg injuries and antler deformations is not fully understood but is thought to be associated with reallocating nutrients toward healing the leg injury, instead of antler growth.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pie and her twins

Our other resident deer, Pie, brought her twins today.

Pie's Twins

Proud Mama - Pie

Pie and one of the twins

Friday, August 9, 2013


We have named Cider's new fawn "Appleseed", in honor of her beloved grandmother who was named "Apple" (the matriarch of the herd who died in 2012).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cider's New Fawn

Finally....we have been waiting 2 months for Cider to bring her new fawn to the property.   She was born the end of May.   


Monday, July 1, 2013

Baby Turkeys

A small group of baby turkeys came walking down the driveway about 6:30am today.  They came around to the backyard for some cracked corn.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spotted Turtle

While whipping the grass along the back fence this afternoon, I saw this Spotted Turtle.

This particular turtle first came to the property in 2005 and was seen again in 2006 and 2009.  A picture of the turtle's plastron (bottom shell) was taken each time she was on the property and compared.  The unique markings were identical, indicating that this is the same turtle coming to lay her eggs.  

Spotted Turtles are approximately 5 inches in length. Sexual maturity is reached at 8-10 years and most individuals live for at least 25 years.  Some members of this species can reach 50 years of age.

Assuming the turtle on the property was 8 years old in 2005, she may be 16 years or older now.

You can also see the 2009 photos of this turtle on this blog located under the June entries.

We have named her "Polka-Dot Lily" -- we hope to see you for many more years to come!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Snapping Turtle

We have never had a snapping turtle on the property.  I saw this guy during a rain storm near the driveway.  

Snappers will travel extensively overland to reach new habitat or to lay eggs.   This species mates from April through November, with their peak laying season in June and July. The female can hold sperm for several seasons, using it as necessary. Females travel over land to find sandy soil in which to lay their eggs, often some distance from the water. After digging a hole, the female typically deposits 25 to 80 eggs each year, guiding them into the nest with her hind feet and covering them with sand for incubation and protection. Incubation time is temperature-dependent, ranging from 9 to 18 weeks. In cooler climates, hatchlings overwinter in the nest. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wood Spider

This wood spider was at the entrance of the shed when I opened the door today.   He is hugh!!  Hope we don't have any more lurking about.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Two Barred Owls

These beautiful birds are visiting the yard almost everyday.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Red-Shouldered Hawk

We had 2 Red-Shouldered Hawks at the edge of the woods this week.  One went down into the brook and it looked like it was trying to catch something in the water.

  • Behavior

    Red-shouldered Hawks soar over forests or perch on tree branches or utility wires. Its rising, whistled kee-rah is a distinctive sound of the forest. They hunt small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles either from perches or while flying.
  • Habitat

    Look for Red-shouldered Hawks in deciduous woodlands, often near rivers and swamps. They build stick nests in a main crotch of a large tree. During migration, Red-shouldered Hawks often move high overhead along ridges or along the coast.

Wild Turkey

A visit from a Wild Turkey this week.  This lone male turkey was scratching around the bird feeders looking for some seeds.  The previous evening, we had 3 male turkeys in the yard.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Barred Owl Visit

While feeding our resident deer early this morning, I looked up into a nearby tree and saw this Barred Owl staring at me.   We hear two of them on a regular basis calling each other in the early morning or evening.   Thanks to Bridget for grabbing the camera and getting these photos!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pepe Joins us for Lunch

While grilling our trout for lunch today, I looked down at our brook and saw a skunk sunning himself by some rocks.  He was there for a long time, grooming himself, and then started to come up the bank towards the backyard.   I threw a small piece of trout down on the rocks and he went for it immediately.   After the fish was cooked I gave him the cooked skin.   He probably thought he died and went to heaven after having such a nice lunch!!

Striped skunks mate in February and early March. Females give birth in May, often in woodchuck burrows, to an average litter of six. It is not unusual to see a female skunk with a line of little black and white copies following her across a damp pasture or lawn on an early July morning.
Skunks forage at night or at dawn for a variety of foods including berries, grasses, nuts and other vegetable material, as well as worms, insects, grubs and the nestlings of birds, mice and cottontail rabbits. They also prey on woodchucks and other young animals in burrows. Skunks often leave holes in the ground where they forage for insects or tear apart ground nests of small animals.
Although skunks retreat to winter dens and remain inactive for extended periods, they do not hibernate. Males in particular are likely to be active above ground periodically. They may be active even during cold weather, especially during the breeding season.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Turkey Vulture

We had 4 turkey vultures in our trees yesterday.  Not a very attractive looking bird!

These birds ride thermals in the sky and use their keen sense of smell to find fresh carcasses. They are a consummate scavenger, cleaning up the countryside one bite of their sharply hooked bill at a time, and never mussing a feather on their bald heads.

Turkey Vultures nest in rock crevices, caves, ledges, thickets, mammal burrows and hollow logs, fallen trees, abandoned hawk or heron nests, and abandoned buildings. These nest sites are typically much cooler (by 13°F or more) than surroundings, and isolated from human traffic or disturbance. While they often feed near humans, Turkey Vultures prefer to nest far away from civilization.