Columnist on his rapidly vanishing suet
By Roger Pitt
There is the joy of watching and how they resemble people in many ways.
The other side is a natural test of wills, at times so annoying they wear out their welcome. They are a puzzle, even frustrating, at times.
A case in point is the disappearing suet, hanging from a hook on a bird feeder. Suet is a delicacy, attracting woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and various other birds.
For many years, this food source was replaced twice during the winter after birds had whittled it away. This winter not only did a culprit make off with the suet, but carried the mesh bag away with it.
The first bag made it through much of the winter. The most recent — the fourth — failed to make it through a second day.
I was tempted to ask Phil Anunson to set up his surveillance camera, but that did not seem reasonable with the continuous activity of a variety of birds from dawn to dusk — with cardinals visiting both early and late.
The feeder at the top of the post holding the suet has been abandoned, because squirrels not only scratched out most of the bird seeds to gorge on the sunflower seeds, but annoyingly removed its cover.
Squirrels also assaulted other feeders. They gnawed at a log cabin style feeder made by Tom Faucher and routinely use the feeders as spring boards.
One landing site is a finch feeder mounted on the window providing a panorama of Pitt Acres.
Archie Hehman included a metal mount with the feeder extending it eight inches from the window, increasing the odds of even a light weight squirrel damaging it when it is used as a spring board.
Often a squirrel will scratch on the window enthralled by its image reflected in the glass.
Greed, envy, avarice, sloth are human traits displayed by wildlife. Like us they prefer convenience and safety.
Even deer take advantage of the feed and safety offered by rural residences, where we have domesticated land that was forest or marshes and safe from hunters.
Deer often visit Pitt Acres, both front and back doors, while browsing, or raising their fawns.
Last year a pair of fawns repeatedly raced back and forth at the rear of the house, until the mother ended the fun and led them into the woods.
I was surprised one day when a bald eagle landed in the driveway about 10 feet from the window overlooking the bird feeders. It was much larger than I imagined and amazed by the size and brightness of its head. Movement in the house startled it, and it flew off, carrying the dead squirrel that had drawn its attention with it.
Our local goose population is increasing, too. Much of it because of our help developing habitat.
A small island in a neighbor’s pond has been home to a Canada goose family for several years. Sunday both parents were on the island guarding the nest.
Another neighbor has several ponds near his land. The pond behind the house is a haven for geese of all sizes between newly hatched and ready to fly as members of the flock join ranks.
A goose took up residence on a muskrat house at the Marsh Walk site of the Wolf River Sturgeon Trail several weeks ago and has patiently sat on its nest waiting for the eggs to hatch. That probably happened Saturday as the goose was in open water of the marsh.
A pair of mallards is sharing the marsh, but its nesting site is less obvious. Wood duck houses are placed strategically in the marsh, along with a blue bird house.
The blue bird house is the same design Curt Sommer placed at Pitt Acres years ago. The sole survivor attracted a wren, building a nest of twigs.
Delivery time is near for deer and turkey.
The courting ritual of the Tom is a test of vanity — fanning its tail feathers and strutting — wooing a hen. Actually, the hen and hunters woo Tom, who loses his head over the clucking of a potential mate.
Tom and Kent King used their cell phones to record a second sturgeon spawning at the Sturgeon Trail last Wednesday. The first spawning was two weeks earlier.
“The spawning area had sturgeon from end to end and all at one time,” Kent said.
“There were a lot of 100-pound females, but not many males,” Tom said.
Jim Binder made a wire mesh suet feeder a few years ago. I am an early riser and one day sensed something outside the window.
Turning on the outdoor light revealed an obvious mother raccoon straddling the feeder — feasting on a multi-course meal of seeds and suet. It basked in the spotlight until detecting my movement inside.
Hanging a mesh bag of suet is easier than stuffing pieces into the wire mesh feeder. I guess taking the easy way is a bad example for critters.