Laugh (or perhaps cringe) if you must, but it is one of my fondest wishes to sit beneath my spruce tree and hand-feed a bird, a chipmunk or a little red squirrel. Well, today I nearly got my chance!
This picture below shows just how close this little fella came to the tips of my tennies:
I didn't technically hand-feed him, but I had scattered some seed on the ground right in front of me and he came as close as this and ate to his heart's content. I was not quiet - though I did keep still. As I watched, I carried on a conversation with Bookworm who was watching from a dining room window above. This went on for a good five or ten minutes! It was such a simple joy ... the cicada was buzzing off in the woods, the shade was cool beneath the evergreen canopy, and all these tiny creatures all around me.
There were four chipmunks in all, and they are truly amazing to watch up close! Their fur is beautiful, their tiny paws so clever, and their eyes so bright!
You can see below how he filled his pouches rather nicely.
I think keeping these windows open all the time (except in extreme heat when we use the AC) has helped normalize our voices to the little critters who call our yard home. I've noticed lately when I pass through the gate into the feeding area, the squirrels and birds don't rush off like they used to. They startle at the first creak of the gate, but often stay where they are and continue to feed as I fill the feeders. I talk to them quietly, feeling a bit like Snow White - though, no, I don't sing - as they watch me from a slight distance.
The chipmunks appear to be most trusting, though today as I sat there snapping pictures of the one above, I heard a small noise behind me. Bookworm said one of the gray squirrels had come up close behind me and sniffed me!
I also wanted to show you the lattice-work Bill put up beneath the dining room and family room additions:
Before he did, this area was open and I think this is where the neighborhood cats would lie in wait to pounce on some poor unsuspecting critter. I recently witnessed our neighbor's cat Fluffy get two birds within two days (a chickadee and a titmouse) and that was it. I asked Bill to put this barrier up right away to provide some form of protection for our little visitors.
I have to tell you, also, about our hawk sightings today; they were quite dramatic!
The first one happened on our way home from speech, when a large red-tailed hawk swooped in front of our van and landed on the side of the road. That in itself was amazing, but when he took off almost immediately again, we realized he was carrying - as we could see plainly - an enormous and dangling snake!! Goodness, the boys were whooping with excitement! (Poor snake, I thought, and I'm no fan of snakes.)
A bit later on, back at home, I was getting lunch ready and Bookworm was sitting by the windows watching the feeders, when he suddenly cried out and banged on the window. I ran over to see what it was: a HUGE red-tailed hawk (just like the one we had seen on our drive) sitting right outside our window in the spruce tree. After noticing a small white-breasted nuthatch frozen in fear near the base of the tree trunk, I clapped strenuously (hanging out the window a-ways) and he calmly sailed off into the hazy blue sky.
BW told me he had been watching the little red squirrel when the hawk flew down and almost snatched him but a nearby gray squirrel - get this - jumped on the hawk and seemed to bite at his wing! The hawk was not too ruffled by this; he just flew over a branch or two. By the time I had arrived at the windows, the squirrels had made a clean getaway. If it were not for that nuthatch stuck out in the open, I would have tried to get the hawk's picture, but you know, you've got to have your priorities!
Well, things have settled down now - the feeders are back to all business. As I type, I'm watching a downy woodpecker at the suet, a nuthatch at the seed cake, a gray squirrel in the tray, and the doves enjoying the spillage underneath ... all the while imagining my next "Snow White" moment. :)