Bird Sightings and Chipmunk Gardens

August 3, 2023

Mr. Peanut's horde of seeds, now sprouted

Mr. Peanut is a better gardener than I am…

About 5 years ago, Tech Support and I moved to Ontario. We live in a relatively new neighbourhood, and the first year, there were lawns but no trees. The second year, scattered shrubs and the occasional sapling. Now, almost every house on the block has a garden and at least one tree, and it’s been such a thrill to watch wildlife moving in as more and more habitat takes root.

This year, the first house finches visited our bird feeders. And this morning, we spotted the first hummingbird of the summer drinking from our honeysuckle vines – vines we innocently supposed to be annuals, but which have come back bigger and better every spring, despite the vigorous pruning we give them.

We also get visits from at least one eastern cottontail. We named her Dog – Destroyer of Gardens – after she chewed every single flower off our creeping phlox plants. We’re philosophical about that loss though, as DOG had babies in our yard, and few things are cuter than fresh baby bunnies.*

The most frequent mammal sightings, though, are of chipmunks! At least two of them visit the yard, both of whom are named Mr. Peanut, because:

  • Our neighbour feeds them peanuts
  • We can’t tell them apart, much less discern their genders

Mr. Peanut loves to eat peanuts on our deck. As the owner of a nut allergy, I am trying not to interpret this as a plot to murder me, and have placed Tech Support in charge of cleaning up the shells. He made the mistake of leaving his gardening shoes outside one night, only to discover Mr. Peanut had stashed a whole nut in one for later use!

Mr. Peanut is very, very good a stashing food for later use. He’s great at cleaning up the seeds that grackles and red-winged blackbirds have spilled under the feeders. He’s also great at planting those seeds ALL OVER THE YARD. We were baffled by the odd weeds we kept finding in the strangest of places, until we realized that Mr. Peanut’s hordes were sprouting! He was baffled in turn by the fact that all his seeds were missing, after I went around uprooting all the sprouts.

Small price to pay for the fun of watching wildlife in our own backyard.

What birds and bugs and mammals visit your yard? I’d love to hear your stories!

Attention Writer Peeps! I’m presenting at the SCBWI virtual conference this weekend. Registration will get you recordings of ALL 50 sessions, so check it out.

*One of those baby bunnies is now buried under our foxgloves. We heard the strangest noise one morning, and when we went out to investigate, we discovered Baby Dog, screaming in terror as she fled from the neighbour’s cat. We spent three days running outside to intervene in the hunt… only to find her carcass in the garden one morning. You know me – I LOVE cats. But they are highly effective predators and the number one cause of death for wild birds in the USA. Keep your cat indoors – for its sake, and the sake of every small wild creature in town.

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