July 14, 2009
I'd like everyone to meet "Smokey"! She is a real character, has been a very welcomed guest to the yard and a part of our lives for 4 years now; so I am not sure if that brings her closer to 5 now or maybe a bit older?
There's usually around 6 to 10 Squirrels in the yard at times, yet only a few ever get a name that sticks. You've met Jigger. Others not mentioned, some gone but not forgotten, include Blutto, Bandit and every year one gets titled "Nipples" for obvious reasons.
Smokey has been like family, and if she would live in the house with us, we'd probably let her. Meadow approves of Squirrels unlike her feelings towards other Cats. We've talked about how if we ever moved that we would have to take Smokey with us; but I think we will remain here for some time yet. With that, I have always wondered about the life span of the common Squirrel of these parts. It's rather confusing really... many do not make it to a ripe old age dying of a natural death (cars, predators, humans and their constant destruction of habitat, etc). In my research, a typical Squirrel of this species can live 5 to 7 years. There are reports of Squirrels in captivity living up to 20 years. What a difference!
She is showing her age these days. Her attitude has changed also. The once ever so playful, un-shy girl is now more cautious and reserved. I miss her days of climbing all over us, sitting at the picnic table during a meal, entertaining our guests with her little "tricks" for a peanut as you will see in some photos below. My father always loved her rooting through his coat pockets for a peanut. She has been coming around a little more lately, she knows we got the peanuts but her cautiousness makes me sad. We had such fun together over the years; what has happened? Is this part of aging? Does she not completely remember? Has something happened to her through the last winter, like a bad experience with people, and she is not as trusting anymore? If this is the case, it's probably for the better. As I've said before, I do worry about some of the more tame Squirrels approaching the wrong person in their travels and end up getting hurt. Neighbors of mine have thought some of these so tame Squirrels are actually attacking me.
There are a lot of stories that I could share about Smokey and perhaps another time I will.
The only one I want to share at this moment, which shows how much we adore her is this... in her younger years we saw her daily and it didn't matter much on the season either. The last couple years have had her disappearing for many days at a time and even more recently weeks to a couple months! I realize that one day Smokey just isn't going to come back. The worst part of that will be the not knowing what happened to her. So, in her absences before, we'd worry and call her, keep an eye for her every chance at home during the daylight. I bought a clear plastic magnet picture frame, put one of Smokey's photos in it and it sticks up on the inside of the back door. I wonder if guests take notice to it or not? Smokey has always made my time out in the yard more memorable and enjoyable. Two summers ago, just after I put that photo up and Smokey was absent for over a week, I was walking over to the corner store. I am always paying attention to that around me, seeing who I recognize in my travels and I sure don't mean people. Suddenly there is this gray Squirrel on the other side of the street. I call out "Smokey!" and she came running. She climbed up the fence next to me, looking me in the eyes and I pulled out a peanut for her. I scolded her for not being around and for being out on the street (a couple sitting on their porch must'a thought I was crazy). I didn't care. I was just so happy to see her. Her disappearing tricks are conditioning me to the day, hopefully not any time soon, when she will be gone and not coming back. I only hope she is going to be another one of my furry friends that I meet at Rainbow Bridge one day...
Enjoy the photos below and see why Smokey is in our hearts always...
Angie is standing in this photo. Smokey jumped up to her from the old deck rail.
Smokey and I with a small piece of wood. That board is still hanging around the yard. This is the summer I caught Misfit (the Budgie)... there's the bird cage way down at the back of the yard.
Me, Smokey and the stick again. I like the glimmer of light above my hand in this shot. It appears that Smokey is reaching up to it.
Angie and Smokey again. This was part of our weekend morning coffee ritual. I hope Ang isn't mad at me for posting these early in the day shots.
July 3, 2009
I read a small tid-bit in the Toronto Sun today about approximately 300 to 400 Seagulls being poisoned out Windsor, Ontario way. 100+ were already dead and the rest are suffering and waiting to die.
I've done some further reading and other versions of the story don't stray far from the above details. It appears someone has been leaving tainted food on the top of a closed Home Depot store which has been empty for about a year now.
Where do I begin? Love them or hate them, a Seagull is a living creature. It feels pain much like we do. Why is someone poisoning them? What right do they have to choose that hundreds of these birds must die?
Here is a shocking quote from the article too... "If it's considered pest control, it's not illegal.... Under the animal protection legislation". Why does that not make any sense to me? Animal protection legislation allows such inhumane forms of pest control?
Next, what about the food chain? I am sure there are other birds and animals in the area who may go for this tainted food. They will be dealt the same fate. Also, other birds and animals may find one of these dead Gulls, feed upon it, and too end up dead.
I don't have much knowledge or experience with Seagulls other than feeding them french fries at the park, or this one who hangs out at a drive-thru Tim Horton's in Meaford, Ontario and gets fed lots of Tim-bits through-out the day by the employees or customers. He's quite a character! I've enjoyed watching them in groups up along Georgian Bay, waiting for beach goers to hit the water, leaving their picnic lunches unattended. I have to admit I even laugh when they chase little kids along the beach wanting whatever they may be eating. Many of the kids drop their ice cream cone or hot dog in the sand and run away screaming while the Gulls quickly devour the spilled snack. Which leads me to one thing they are good for... shore line clean up. You don't get too many dead fish along the shore with the Gulls around.
I understand cities and their "culling" tactics due to mess and over population. I may not like it, I may not agree with it every time, but I understand it (sometimes). New York recently gassed over 2,000 Canada Geese. Something about the mess and to do with that plane that crashing into the Hudson River (01/15/2009) which they blame a flock of Geese for... flying into the engines; or did they actually get sucked into the turbines?
The Human race can be such a cruel and selfish lot at times. Far too often I am not proud of what man kind does to the other creatures who inhabit this planet. A Seagull surely has it's right to a life on this planet.
I know a number of people who are unhappy with the Seagull population in Toronto. Yes, Seagulls are shorebirds, but Toronto is built along Lake Ontario, and the Gulls are making their way inland more and more. There are a number of rivers, creeks and ponds within the city but what lures them in even more so is the amount of food litter people leave carelessly about the ground. I snapped this shot one afternoon at a strip mall parking lot. Dispose of your food waste properly and scenes like this won't happen. I commend this Gull for stepping in to clean up, even though he's going to make a heck of a mess of that non-biodegradable styro-foam container first.
I would like to end this on a happier note... trying to give these squawky, garbage eating, poop machines a better image. If you cut and paste the link below, you will witness a 13 second video, which many of you probably have already seen, of one quite famous and clever Seagull in Scotland who loves Doritos so much and knows where and how to get them. If this doesn't show you there is more to these creatures and animals in general, I don't know what will.