February 24th, 2005

breeden

Two Unexpected Visitors

It's a great way to wake up, really--stagger forth from confused dreams of orchid pirates* and wander into the living room, to spot a strange bird grazing soggily under the neighbor's feeder. Much checking would indicate that it was an Eastern Towhee, a new addition to my lifelist and yet another bird that I can plot to find ways to attract.

I set up a platform feeder on the deck yesterday, which cardinals are said to favor. It's basically a mesh-floored box with low sides, resting on little feet. Cardinals evidentally don't like to perch to feed. We'll see if it works.

The other visitor was rather less thrilling (although I do not suffer the same automatic horror that a lot of people probably would) when I saw movement under the platform feeder. Getting down on my knees, I discovered that a rat the size of a squirrel was sheltering under it--he was mostly out of the rain, and had food, making it a cozy spot for an enterprising rat.

I considered this.

Practically speaking, only an idiot would think that setting out assorted grains year-round wouldn't net you the occasional rodent visitor--prior to this, he had probably simply been picking up food dropped on the ground next to the deck, like the doves and the cardinals, and probably at night. It's a very dark morning, since it's wet, and the platform on the deck means more spilled food up top, so it was probably a case of seeing somebody who's been there all along. I'm backing onto a greenbelt, which is home to urban wildlife--families of red foxes near where James works, and there's even a deer population in some of the thicker belts in town. We have mice in the house, squirrels in the trees, and possums in the trash. Had I ever bothered to think about it, of course there would be rats.

Other than keeping the deck swept off regularly to make sure that we're not building up spilled birdseed--which I'd do anyway for aesthetic reasons!--I suppose there's not much I can do about it. The rat doesn't appear to be hurting anything--they may go after eggs in the right season, but that's why birds build nests in trees--and we've certainly never encountered one in the house. This doesn't actually mean they aren't there, but since I've heard no squeaking in the walls, nor found rat-sized poo, I'm pretty mellow--if I don't see it, I don't need to know it's there. And in more practical terms, I hardly think that I could banish the rat--there are large lawns and empty lots and the lush green belt, and a garbage can and bird feeder every house length. This is the very definition of rat -friendly territory. You couldn't get these guys out with a crowbar.

And of course, as my brain traitorously points out, the rat and the squirrels differ only in terms of fluff, and I am grudgingly fond of my squirrel opera, and I even HAD a pet rat at one point, so begrudging the rat a bite of birdseed, when he hasn't committed the cardinal sin of house invasion, seems a little extreme.

If we get a plague, I'll change my mind, but I suppose for now all I can do is keep an eye out.

And having typed that last line, I look out onto the deck, and a female cardinal is sitting on the platform feeder. EUREKA!

*I just finished reading Orchid Fever which deals with the international orchid trade and bureaucracy run amok, so that explains that.
breeden

Two Unexpected Visitors

It’s a great way to wake up, really–stagger forth from confused dreams of orchid pirates* and wander into the living room, to spot a strange bird grazing soggily under the neighbor’s feeder. Much checking would indicate that it was an Eastern Towhee, a new addition to my lifelist and yet another bird that I can plot to find ways to attract.

I set up a platform feeder on the deck yesterday, which cardinals are said to favor. It’s basically a mesh-floored box with low sides, resting on little feet. Cardinals evidentally don’t like to perch to feed. We’ll see if it works.

The other visitor was rather less thrilling (although I do not suffer the same automatic horror that a lot of people probably would) when I saw movement under the platform feeder. Getting down on my knees, I discovered that a rat the size of a squirrel was sheltering under it–he was mostly out of the rain, and had food, making it a cozy spot for an enterprising rat.

I considered this.

Practically speaking, only an idiot would think that setting out assorted grains year-round wouldn’t net you the occasional rodent visitor–prior to this, he had probably simply been picking up food dropped on the ground next to the deck, like the doves and the cardinals, and probably at night. It’s a very dark morning, since it’s wet, and the platform on the deck means more spilled food up top, so it was probably a case of seeing somebody who’s been there all along. I’m backing onto a greenbelt, which is home to urban wildlife–families of red foxes near where James works, and there’s even a deer population in some of the thicker belts in town. We have mice in the house, squirrels in the trees, and possums in the trash. Had I ever bothered to think about it, of course there would be rats.

Other than keeping the deck swept off regularly to make sure that we’re not building up spilled birdseed–which I’d do anyway for aesthetic reasons!–I suppose there’s not much I can do about it. The rat doesn’t appear to be hurting anything–they may go after eggs in the right season, but that’s why birds build nests in trees–and we’ve certainly never encountered one in the house. This doesn’t actually mean they aren’t there, but since I’ve heard no squeaking in the walls, nor found rat-sized poo, I’m pretty mellow–if I don’t see it, I don’t need to know it’s there. And in more practical terms, I hardly think that I could banish the rat–there are large lawns and empty lots and the lush green belt, and a garbage can and bird feeder every house length. This is the very definition of rat -friendly territory. You couldn’t get these guys out with a crowbar.

And of course, as my brain traitorously points out, the rat and the squirrels differ only in terms of fluff, and I am grudgingly fond of my squirrel opera, and I even HAD a pet rat at one point, so begrudging the rat a bite of birdseed, when he hasn’t committed the cardinal sin of house invasion, seems a little extreme.

If we get a plague, I’ll change my mind, but I suppose for now all I can do is keep an eye out.

And having typed that last line, I look out onto the deck, and a female cardinal is sitting on the platform feeder. EUREKA!

*I just finished reading Orchid Fever which deals with the international orchid trade and bureaucracy run amok, so that explains that.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

breeden

(no subject)

Took a nap. Woke up. Had some kind of dream about two shapeshifting blobby things, called the Ragged Thing and the Smooth Thing, (possibly my use of the word "thing" has invaded my subconscious in terrifying new ways) and a boy that one of them had made out of a tyrant flycatcher (a type of bird I've never seen, but keep flipping past in the bird book on my way to somewhere else.) Vague and nonsensical. The blobs were evil, but the Smooth Thing kept trying to warn me telepathically, although it seemed really hopeless and depressed, while the Ragged Thing lined up all the locals, marched them out of the laundromat, and convinced them to ride horses off cliffs for no apparent reason.

Possibly this reveals my deep-seated terror that the next time I go to do laundry, I will be telepathical controlled by an invertebrate shapeshifter and made to ride a horse off a cliff. Or, then again, maybe it doesn't.
breeden

(no subject)

Took a nap. Woke up. Had some kind of dream about two shapeshifting blobby things, called the Ragged Thing and the Smooth Thing, (possibly my use of the word “thing” has invaded my subconscious in terrifying new ways) and a boy that one of them had made out of a tyrant flycatcher (a type of bird I’ve never seen, but keep flipping past in the bird book on my way to somewhere else.) Vague and nonsensical. The blobs were evil, but the Smooth Thing kept trying to warn me telepathically, although it seemed really hopeless and depressed, while the Ragged Thing lined up all the locals, marched them out of the laundromat, and convinced them to ride horses off cliffs for no apparent reason.

Possibly this reveals my deep-seated terror that the next time I go to do laundry, I will be telepathical controlled by an invertebrate shapeshifter and made to ride a horse off a cliff. Or, then again, maybe it doesn’t.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.