Wild things around the homestead

When we moved to our new homestead, the first wildlife activity we noticed was bluebirds everywhere and a bluebird nest box in the front yard. The previous owners told us they would leave it up because the bluebirds were already nesting there this spring. The next thing we noticed were the bluebirds beating themselves up, pecking incessantly at our shiny windows and pooping on the window screens all around the house. They are quite territorial when they have young in the nest, and this poor male bluebird was taking his job of protector very seriously. We tried dulling the window shine with soap scum to keep him calmer. It didn’t work. Only when the young fledged did the pecking stop. But, the bluebirds are still here and probably going to produce more broods of young this summer. So we’re working on other solutions to the pecking issue. They are truly beautiful colors and its hard not to smile when they perch and sing from the rooftop.

Male bluebird perched on a pine limb out in front of the house

We’ve been here one month now and have 34 yard birds on our list so far. Once a red-shouldered hawk landed on a branch just a few feet from Keith as we were walking down by our creek. Another morning we looked out the window to see a pileated woodpecker just 10 feet from the garden, pounding on a downed log, wood chips flying everywhere! The seed feeder out front has attracted brown-headed nuthatches, mourning doves, goldfinches, titmice, red-bellied woodpeckers, and more.

Brown-headed nuthatch
Red-bellied woodpecker stuffing his face with seeds

Out in our meadow, there’s a patch of sumac growing. On one stroll I spotted this eight-spotted forester moth resting there. What a beauty!

Eight-spotted forester resting on a sumac in the meadow

The gardens are growing and beginning to attract critters as well. The parsley is host to the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly. It’s one reason we deliberately plant parsley. We want to provide habitat for lots of pollinators at this homestead. After all, we are not the only living beings here.

“Parsley worm” – Black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar munching on parsley

Not all the critters are as cute as the caterpillars and bluebirds, but they are magnificent in their own right. On the first day I turned over the soil in the old garden beds left by the previous owners, a bright orange centipede came crawling up. We’ve also seen five-lined racers, fence lizards, and an eastern worm snake. All welcome wild inhabitants at the homestead. Of course, there are some annoying ones, too, like the deer flies that bite and the mosquitoes we know will come during summer, but all have a role and a place, and our job is to appreciate them and live with them.

Bark centipede in the garden

We’re building a community here. Learning what shares this space with us and working to make it inviting for other wild things.

What wild critters are you noticing around your home these days?

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