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    Who Else Likes My Brush Pile?

    A couple of weeks ago, I extolled the virtues of my back yard brush pile.  I find myself surveilling the structure nearly every day breakfast, and last week was tickled to see a Red Fox effortlessly hop my 5-foot fence as I enjoyed toast and coffee.  It was clearly well-practiced at the ambush, probably hoping for a distracted squirrel, careless bird, or lingering mouse but on this morning the critters at the pile took shelter and the fox moved on after showing off its balancing prowess by strolling along the top of the fence by way of departure.  Curious to learn more about what besides birds may be visiting my brush pile, I deployed a motion-activated trail camera to keep 24-hour vigil when I wasn't watching for myself out the kitchen window.

    In the short time I've been keeping track, I've found the fox to visit almost every day, at about any time though not yet mid-day. I'll bet it has come away successful at least once and so keeps trying, though I've yet to capture a capture on my trail cam.  

    Squirrel_run
    Hmmm, why is this squirrel in a hurry to be elsewhere??

    Fox_day-1Oh, that's why..

    Fox_day-2
    The fox knows when the gig is up, though, and breaks off the chase (though no doubt remembers the details to adjust its strategy the next time.)

    Fox1
    Maybe a dawn raid?

    Fox2
    No good.

    Fox3
    Pre-dawn might be good for mice…

    Besides the fox, I've seen a few other night visitors.  One, though unwelcome, triggered two interesting frames…

    Cat_Owl1

    One night this fat cat swung by the pile.  I've never seen it during the day, but it underscores the benefit of the brush pile as nearby cover for feeding birds.  It also forces an errant cat to approach from the open ground in front of the brush pile, denying it the element of surprise.  Now what is the cat looking up at on this brisk night?

     

    Cat_Owl2
    A second later, the cat is looking nearly straight up.  Right under the numerals 3/5 at top center (which means frame 3 of 5 in the sequence), note a gray blur that isn't there in the first frame- click to enlarge both cat pics and you'll see it.  I believe this is a wingtip of an owl flushed by the cat and if so, the worst photo I've ever acquired of a strigiform.  

    Coon1
    Squirrels have the daytime clean-up concession, but at night sometimes a Raccoon will see what spilled seed is left to mop up. Cylindrical baffles like the one visible on the left pole keep both grounded, leaving the feeders to those that can fly in (though I'm sure the fox could jump up if desired.)

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    Bill Schmoker

    Bill is known in the birding community as a leading digital photographer of birds. Since 2001 he has built a collection of digital bird photos documenting over 640 species of North American birds. His photography has appeared in international nature publications, books, newspapers, interpretive signs, web pages, advertisements, corporate logos, and as references for art works. Also a published writer, Bill wrote a chapter for Good Birders Don't Wear White, is a past Colorado/Wyoming regional editor for North American Birds and is proud to be on the Leica Birding Team. Bill is a Colorado eBird reviewer and is especially fond of his involvement with the ABA's Institute for Field Ornithology and Young Birder Programs. Bill is a popular birding guide, speaker, and workshop instructor, and teaches middle school science in Boulder, Colorado. When he isn’t birding he enjoys family time with his wife and son.

    Latest posts by Bill Schmoker (see all)

    • http://twilberding.zenfolio.com/ Tom Wilberding

      What a great backyard! But what’s next? Mule deer? Mountain Lion? Keep your doors locked and keep us posted.

    • http://www.youthworker.com/youth-ministry-resources-ideas/youth-ministry/ Youth ministry ideas

      Wow, you have a very popular yard, haha.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/steveholzman Steve Holzman

      My game camera has captured gray fox, bobcat, possum (mostly), rabbit, squirrel, and armadillo. It’s great fun. It also helps me know when to set the cat traps up again. I bet people would be surprised how many cats use their yards at night. Thankfully my county has a great policy on free-roaming cats. I wish they all did.

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