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A Tough Nut and Strong Wings

Tough_nut We are big wildlife watchers around here, and pictured at right and below are two of our favorite subjects, Tough Nut the squirrel, and Strong Wings the bird. Although we lack all the details, both creatures were injured in some way several months ago. Fortunately, both have survived quite nicely here in our backyard mini-habitat.

We imagine Tough Nut (top photo) found himself some trouble, possibly at the hands of a neighborhood cat or a fox. The first time we noticed him, his tail looked rather mangled, stripped of all fur, and well, chewed ...

At first we felt so sorry for him, imagining the horror he must have endured, and the hardships that might lay in his future. And yet, over the next few weeks, we watched as the soft gray fur filled back in. His tail remained a stump, but a nice fluffy one at that. And, happily for Tough Nut, this new physique left him in no way a squirrel underdog, as we witnessed him successfully defending his territory on several occasions. We chose his name not just for this reason, but also because he had to have been one tough nut to get away from whatever predator had him in its clutches!

Now, it's hard to tell from the picture, but Strong Wings (bottom photo), a slate-colored junco, is Strong_wings missing one of his legs. We first noticed him at a feeder that hangs outside our window. It was a startling sight ~ his right leg was dangling by a thread! But this seemed in no way to slow him down. Later we saw his leg had fallen off, and we feared the worst for him ...

But in another happy ending, Strong Wings seems to be doing just fine; he is not shunned or picked on by other birds, and he regularly visits our feeders. His name comes from the way in which he flies so beautifully, back and forth between the bushes and feeders. We suppose it must take more strength than ordinary for this bird to get around.

Our only concern is the time is nearing when juncos migrate northward ... will this little bird be able to make that long journey? Our guess is, that his wings are stronger than ever, not to mention his resolve, and we hope to see him back here next fall.

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