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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Babysitting Wildlife


With the start up of Jeff back in school, I have started babysitting 2 days a week at a friend's house while she goes back to school. Honestly, it's not my favorite thing to do. But Butterfly loves these girls and it's fun for her to get out of the house. One nice thing about it is they live out in the country and have a huge yard (plus I believe 100 acres...they rent the old farm house) so Butterfly gets a taste of country life.

They have huge windows all over the house with no blinds (no need, their closest neighbor is across the street about a block away) and I love to watch the wildlife. There are deer galore, geese, crows, birds, raccoons, foxes, ladybugs, and hawks. This morning, I saw one of these:

It was so beautiful and so big. I never imagined that woodpeckers could get this big. Apparently, this is a Pileated Woodpecker. The Pileated Woodpecker is the second largest woodpecker in the United States. They normally live in mature coniferous and deciduous forests, valley woodlots and remote mountain territory. My friends have a wood lot behind their house (which the girls call the Hundred Acre Woods...cute!) so I imagine the woodpecker lives there.

One day, Miss Long Hair started yelling about an animal in their backyard. Now I know they have a ground hog that lives out there (much to the parents' dismay) so I thought that's what she was yelling about. Nope, turned out to be two of these:

They were so beautiful, and got close enough to the house that I could make out their whiskers. Sadly, I saw one of them on the road the next morning. But I have never seen a wild one and it was stunning.

I need to start bringing my camera.

I have thought about getting a book on birding at the library so when the kids are sleeping, I can sit at their window and make note of the kinds of birds I see. So far I know I've seen crows (there are murders of them...love that phrase...murders), geese, the woodpecker, cardinals (my favorite bird), and orioles (pretty little yellow things).

One bad thing about living in the country: the amount of ladybugs they get in the house. I have never seen so many inside, let alone outside.


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I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. --Helen Keller