Wild Life 1 - in Our Backyard

I've heard that if you just sit by the side of the road eventually you'll see the whole world pass by. And as that may also apply to wild life, it pretty well describes our backyard. Recently I've seen some less than ordinary visitors, so I decided to capture their pictures and post them here.

What is this animal in my back yard?



2016.0531 Noticed this animal mostly hidden in the plants just outside the patio. I thought it might be a red fox, a rabbit, a dog or a cat. Couldn't get a good view from inside the house. So, I slowly walked around till I was three feet away right in front of it. Quite a surprise.
Click here to see for yourself



Am I seeing double?

There's two on the left

There's two on the right


Oh, No! There's actually four of them.
Strange Nest


2013.0930 While trimming the bushes, I came across this strange arrangement of twisted branches. It looked like quite a large nest.

Mr. Groundhog meets Mr. Eagle


2013.0708 Can't believe I got this shot. Mr. Groundhog was nibbling on my weeds when Mr. Eagle make a passing swoop, but missed him. I ran for my camera and began shooting video. Within a minute, Mr. Eagle swooped again and I got it. I edited the video down to one second. It's a bit of a blur, but I got it.
NOTE: If you save the video to your PC, you can run it with Quick Time and step thru one frame at a time.

Wild Life or Wild Death



2012.1122 What is this? It looks like a snake inside a tree. Click here to get the whole story.
Another Sort of Wildlife
Father and Son


2012.1014 This morning while sitting at the breakfast table, I spotted some movement in my neighbor's yard. Picked up my camera, zoomed in for a closer look, and discovered a Poppa Bear and a Baby Bear of a different sort. After snapping a few candid shots, I copied the photos to a flash drive and visited my neighbor. The photos were so charming I thought they'd like a copy and I was right. Furthermore, they said they didn't mind if I posted them on our Wild Life page. So, here 'tis for your enjoyment as well.

2012 The New Bird Feeder
The Battle Begins

0806 MON Set up a new bird feeder.
0807 TUE Squirrel found a way to get into the feeder. And so, the challenge begins again.
0808 WED Trimmed back the over-hanging tree limbs, but squirrel is quite an acrobat. It took several trimmings to finally work.
0810 FRI Damn! The squirrel is back in the feeder. I'll have to catch him in the act to see how he's getting in. I trimmed back the branches to such a point that I can't understand how he's getting in.

2012 The New Bird Feeder
The Battle Continues

1011 THU // Trimmed back two more branches which my high-flying squirrel has been using to successfully assault the bird feeder. Had to use a ladder to reach these branches, but bad knees and all I'm not going to let this squirrel get the best of me. I wonder which of us will die first - him leaping from a branch too high or me falling off the ladder. I don't care which - I'm in this to the finish.


1014 SUN // It's 8:15 AM. I looked out the window and there's Mr. Squirrel, puzzling out how to get into the bird feeder.
  • (A) He's pacing on the ground looking up at the feeder from all angles. He tries climbing the pole but can't get past the baffles. So, he climbs the tree. Since his launching branch is missing, he runs out on a limb that's quite a bit higher.
  • (B) A thought bubble over his head says, "This doesn't seem right?" He studies the height of the jump and climbs back down the tree.
  • (A) Back on the ground, he tries climbing the pole again. Still no luck. Back to the tree.
  • (C) From a low hanging limb, he considers jumping up, but he doesn't have enough spring to make it. So, he climbs back up the tree testing each branch on the way up. Then, he runs back down comparing it with the previous branch.
  • (B) Finally, he goes to a new higher branch. He edges out as far as possible and then... the branch droops due to his weight. He begins to fall, but swings back up and races back to where the branch meets the trunk. After a brief pause, he goes to a lower branch.
  • (D) This is a stub of a branch I cut back a few weeks ago. The distance is extreme. He sets himself; measures the distance; bounces a bit to test his spring and then he leaps -- and he makes it. This is his greatest long jump to date. I let him have his feast. He earned it.


1022 MON // Added a dome to the birdfeeder roof - hopefully it'll keep the squirrel away without my having to chop more limbs off the tree.
Cheaper by the dozen


2011.1217 - I couldn't believe my eyes. Six robins on the birdbath at the same time. Robins are normally very fussy insisting on a one at a time pecking order at the birdbath - for bathing or drinking. But recently I learned that in winter they often flock up and roost together to preserve heat.
Click here to visit the Bird Page.

Where have all the deer gone?


2011.1219 - The deer have been so entertaining, I decided they should have a page of their own.
Click here to visit the Deer Page.

The Original Sighting of the Mystery Bird


2010.0711 - There's an unusal bird in our neighborhood. Its screech captured my attention two weeks ago, but today is the first time I caught a glimpse of it and recorded its song. Seeing this bird in flight is astounding. It appears to be at least 18 inches from head to tail and has a 30 inch wing span. I'd love to get a photo of the bird in flight.
Here's the bird's song. (audio)
The Mystery of the Mystery Bird is Solved


2011.0426 - I was sitting in our breakfast room when the mystery bird flew by. And this time I got a good look at it. It's a Red-shouldered Hawk. And it's huge. It's wingspan was between 5 and 6 feet. ... Now truth be told, I couldn't snap his picture as he swooped past the window so quickly. But I generated this composite photo to give you an idea of what I saw.

For a more detailed view of this magnificent bird, click here.

A Bird of My Own


2011.0704 - In the breakfast room again ... this time, big bird was watching me. What a great opportunity! My camera is now always close at hand. While I'm sure this is also a Red-shouldered Hawk, judging by its size, I'd say he's a young one. I'm hoping he'll stop by again.
The Proper Pecking Order

2011.0309 - There is a pecking order and the birds know their place.
Frame 1: Downy Woodpecker arrived before Mr Robin and positioned himself closer to the birdbath.
Frame 2: But Mr Robin is bigger and always gets first dibs on the bath... the proper pecking order.

Our birdbath is not just for the birds ...

2011.0219 - I took these photos during the summer of 2010, but it's taken a while to find a program to publish them in this slideshow format. The slideshow magic I found is a free service called, 123-slideshow.com.


... it's also for the bees

2012.0608 - Is this where that saying comes from? The birds and the bees! Well, today it was the bees turn. They occupied the birdbath all day long and not a single bird would go near it.

George Washington once said,
"Hunting a fox is as difficult as fighting a war - only it's more dangerous."

2010.0920 - When the red fox passes thru our backyard, he's usually quick about it. Too quick for me to catch a picture. But today, he stopped to sun himself next to the big tree. That was my cue. However, my camera was upstairs. So, up the stairs I hobbled, two at a time. Grabbed my camera and dashed downstairs.
Here's what happened next. (audio) ... I never did get his picture, but I did get bruised.



... I got a knot on my head
... and a contusion on my arm
The Hunt for Red October Fox continues

2010.1230 - My hunt for the red fox continues ... and I do intend to shoot him ... with my camera. Today I discovered he's an early riser. At 8:00 AM he made an appearance while I was eating breakfast, but he quickly scurried away. He reappeared three more times before 9:00, but didn't stand still for more than a second. With my camera close at hand I caught him twice in frame. A bit distant and a bit blurry, but at least this proves he exists.

I finally shot Red Fox
And it was a double, double treat

2011.0124 - My patience paid off. I not only got to shoot the red fox, but he brought along his partner as well. Then, after catching a few rays, he invited two deer to take over his sunny spot. Double, double good luck.

Red Fox continues his visits
This time he was hunting in the pachysandra

2012.0517 - I now keep my camera on the table while eating breakfast, 'cause that's when he often plays through. Today he spotted a mouse or chipmunk in the pachysandra. First comes the chase, and then the lunge.



Overturned Birdbath

2010.0909 - Look's like they did it again. When the deer drink from the birdbath, they frequently knock the bowl off. But this morning as I bent down to lift it up, I heard a whimpering sound and the heavy cement bowl moved by itself. Well, that woke me up with a start.

I put on my heaviest work gloves and picked out my longest handled shovel and carefully pried up the bowl. Peering out from under were two dark eyes just as scared as I was. It was a raccoon and he was injured. He squeezed out from under the bowl, took two steps and collapsed.
And then... he just lay there.


And while he lay there, I went inside to find a
container I could use to give him some water.

But when I returned, he was limping his way
to the tree stand at the back of the yard.

But he stopped and looked back to thank me and pose for one last shot
before hobbling off to lick his wounds and hopefully recover.
Urban Coyote
See 2014 Update below ... This is not an Urban Coyote

2010.0726 - On my recent visit to Vermont I met some folks from Paoli. When I mentioned the wild life I'd been observing in Wayne, in particular, a red fox that had eluded my camera, the Paoli folks suggested that it was more likely that the beast I saw was an "urban coyote." Today, I shot the beast (with my camera) and I do believe they were right.


He turned his back on me

And then he spotted a bunny
2014 Update: This is not an Urban Coyote

At this year's neighborhood Christmas party a young man questioned my comments about there being coyotes in Pennsylvania. So, I did some deeper research and here's what I discovered. There definitely are coyotes in the Philadelphia suburbs. Here's the article that confirms it.
The picture at the right shows an urban coyote looks like.

What's not clear is just what kind of animal it was that I posted. As much as I could track down, itís certain that whatever it is ... itís mangy. But itís not clear whether itís a mangy red fox or a mangy coyote. Thanks, Jeff, for bringing this matter to my attention. ~Yale Schwartz

This is what an urban coyote looks like.

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Copyright © Yale Schwartz, 2010