Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wild, Wild Life

Almost a month ago I wrote the following up as my facebook status:

Excuse me while I wax poetic about Wisconsin on this gorgeous (summer-like) spring day. I've loved everywhere I've lived. Utah offers geographic diversity and adventure that is unparalleled to any other state. The DC area's richness - - both of culture and our nation's history - - is breathtaking. But if you love experiencing the beauty of the four seasons, there is no better region than the Great Lakes. Summer and Fall in Wisconsin are absolutely gorgeous - - like nothing I've experienced anywhere else. With the help of zertec, Spring is pretty great too.

Technically we are still in Spring and the zyrtec is doing it's job. Life around here is absolutely gorgeous! We've had so many adventures with baby and full grown animals. The kids and I have started talking pretty regularly about our backyard habitat. And I love how alive our backyard (and neighborhood) habitat really is.

Our least favorite neighborhood animal is the crow. They are always up squawking in our biggest maple trees. Finally one day I decided to investigate (honestly, I thought they were fighting and I might get to see one of them die!). We were waiting for Reid's bus when we discovered a great horned owl living in our tree! Reid was so excited to tell all his friends at preschool and some even commented that they'd been hearing him at night and wondered where he lived! Most days he is in our tree, once or twice each week he seems to settle on the street just East of us, but we can always find him thanks to those obnoxious crows!

Well, little did we know, there was an owlet nest in the backyard across the street from us (those neighbors aren't as outgoing as I am  -- while I was running up and down the street telling everyone to come see our cool owl they kept their little owlets a secret from the rest of us). I had wondered if there was a nest nearby, but it wasn't until a few days of heavy storms that my neighbor kiddie-corner across the street called to tell me our tree owl was hopping around her backyard. I was puzzled, since I was looking up at our tree owl the moment she called. Intrigued, I went over to her house and discovered a juvenile great horned owl. I can see why she thought it was our full grown friend, because it was no small animal! The texture of it's feathers and lack of tuft let us know it was in fact a baby owl.

As a group of us gathered in Jari's yard, the (not so outgoing) neighbor directly across the street came out and filled us all in. The nest had disintegrated in the rain and while one of the babies made it to the safety of another branch the other fell to the ground. Not quiet ready to fly it hoped over her fence (away from her crazy dogs) and into the other neighbor's yard, where it waited patiently for us to all ewe and awe over its grandeur.

Sibling without injury

Full grown mother (or father, we think there might be two) on the morning of the accident. 

This all took place on Saturday, and last we heard the injured juvenile was still hopping from backyard to backyard. At bedtime that evening there was another big storm and Reid was quite worried for baby great horned owl. He asked if we could say a special prayer for it, and of course I let him offer up the sweetest little prayer. He was very glad to hear it had survived the storm, and yesterday our neighbor spent a good five minutes pointing out the non-injured sibling who had flown (or maybe hopped) to a different tree in her yard.

As I'm typing all of this days later I can still hear the crows going crazy! I don't know why they haven't given up. The owl obviously could not care less about them. I have wondered if staying in our tree was a decoy to keep them away from the nest.

We regularly see cardinals, robins, finches, doves, and many other bird varieties fluttering around our yard. After one of the rains last week the kids and I discovered a pair of deer hooves in our garden (they were not there before the rain, when I was raking out the rocks). Ben actually saw them race through our yard the next day. We also have a plethora of bunnies and squirrels, and while the kids love them (and I have to admit the bunnies are cute) they are both quite a nuisance.

Sunday afternoon Ben told us all he'd seen a big frog in the ditch at the Church and we made plans to go rescue it and put it in our neighborhood pond. That turned into another great wildlife adventure. I wish I had caught a photo of him sticking our bucket in the ditch and chasing the frog through the muddy leaves. Neighbors had to think we were pretty crazy. I did get some photos of Reid releasing the frog and finding a baby turtle.

Reid and I reached the pond first and immediately began spotting pond creatures. There were many large frogs perched on lily pads. When Reid hollered at me to come see one he changed his mind "It wasn't a frog, it was a baby turtle!" I didn't actually believe him, as I hadn't seen it, but when Ben and the girls arrived he immediately told Daddy where to look and Ben lifted up a few lily pads and found the baby snapper.

He was so excited to hold it and let it crawl up his hand. He also asked if he could be the one to release it. This nature preserve is actually part of his (environmental charter) Elementary school. He takes a lot of pride in it and is always excited to tell me about the days they spend outside.

Finally releasing Mr Church Frog. I hope he likes his new home! 

Boops liked finding tadpoles and frogs. She wasn't in the mood for pictures and only consented once I told her she was a princess with her frog, "like Tiana!" she proudly shouted. 

There were so many tadpoles!

Can you spy the princess's frog? It's there, I promise. 
We really do love living in the Midwest Great Lakes region and all the wildlife adventures that are right at our doorstep. This certainly is one of the richest areas of the world, even if it's constantly in economic decline. It may not have the right minerals or energy sources, but it certainly has soil and water sources rich enough to feed the entire nation. Perhaps one day we'll prioritize meeting everyone's basic needs over fulfilling our deepest desires. If that day comes I have no doubt the Great Lakes area will be vital.

*read this last paragraph as a "bring on the Millennium!" statement and not a random political plug*


Pa said...

So sorry Mr. Owl flew to the great beyond...

Claudia said...

I love the itty bitty turtle!! And the little boy holding it!! The owl was quite the show while it lasted. Hope those babies make it okay.

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