Backyard Pics: A Napping Chickadee, a Chubby-Cheeked Chipmunk, Flying Squirrels, and “Ms. Deer”

Posted on October 11, 2010. Filed under: Environmental Issues, Nature |

Chickadee napping on hummingbird feeder

Chickadee Napping on Hummingbird Feeder

Chubby-cheeked chipmunk

Chubby-Cheeked Chipmunk

Flying squirrel

Flying Squirrel

Ms. Deer

Ms. Deer

Photos copyright 2010 VisualInfo.Biz, Inc.

Before starting a long day on the computer, I enjoy my early mornings drinking coffee with the wildlife in the backyard. It is my little bit of peace before a usually hectic day.

About two months ago, I caught this little chickadee napping on a hummingbird feeder. Notice how its head is tucked under his wing. I got as close as six inches to this little guy; I could have petted it. There are a few chickadees that like the hummingbird feeders. They sip the water out of the ant moats in the middle of the nectar feeders. The hummingbirds do not appreciate the chickadees’ presence in their territory. They protect their food sources to the extreme. I’ve seen the tiny little hummingbirds chase the relatively much larger chickadees away from the nectar feeders.

After a year of feeding the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks in this yard, I now regularly have four little chipmunks visit every day. To me they are cute little rodents, but I know some people do not appreciate their little striped selves.

About a year ago, I noticed the bird feeders moving when I returned home at night, even at 10 or 11 o’clock. I have heard birds that late at night, but I never thought they ate seed then. I kept watching the feeders and observed what I thought was a mouse hopping very quickly into the feeder. But then I noticed it had a bushy tail, and mice don’t have bushy tails.

I found out on the Internet that these were flying squirrels. They are nocturnal small creatures, about nine inches long, including their tails. They usually can’t be bothered with crawling on tree limbs. They often glide from tree to tree. They do not literally fly, but have furry webs between their limbs and their bodies (you can see the web in the photo). They spread all four paws and stretch these webs out into furry little capes. Some nights I used to sit on the terrace while they glided over me like small hang-gliding Supermen, easily traversing twenty feet from tree to tree.

At one point I regularly counted six flying squirrels out on the trees at night — they used to scamper up and down them all night long. But a pretty new tabby cat moved in next door and I saw it having fun chasing the little guys at night. I have a feeling the squirrels decided a nightly game of “Survivor” wasn’t worth the peanut chips, and I haven’t seen them for about a month. I regularly got so close to them that I could have petted them while I was changing bird feeders.

“Ms. Deer” — I’m not very orginal with names — is usually a daily visitor. Once she sat down under a tree and kept me company while I was gardening. She is a curious soul and seems to like observing me on the terrace as much as I like observing her.

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