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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v16n11)
Right in my Own Backyard - raccoons - by Brandt Carter
posted: May 24, 2019

Right in my Own Backyard header

Robbery happened 2:30am. Speeding tickets written. Baby arrives.
Explosion in population. Graffiti found on windows.
Murder in the early morning. Ground too wet to plant.
Network News, the radio, Alexa, Internet news?....NO. . . This is a report from my backyard!
Yes, robberies are happening nightly. The marauding raccoons are knocking down every birdfeeder and making off with the birdseed. We thought we could trick them by bringing in the feeders around midnight, but alas, the pesky critters just came earlier. And now, the moms are bringing their babies. These thieves are the bane of a backyard birdfeeding humans. They also delight in stealing any pet food left outside, and they will also help themselves to some vegetables in the garden. Keeping the critters at bay will often cause a human to become quite creative. Whether rabbit, chipmunk, raccoon, opossum thieves, a person may begin with baffles and sprays and usually must resort to live traps and relocation. This year has been extremely taxing because coyotes, foxes and deer are invading urban areas. The question now is who will win, the robbers or the residence?
Speeding tickets. . . I wish I could issues them to the squirrels and the chipmunks. The piney and fox squirrel run rampant through the trees and yard much to the delight of the dogs and cat. It is this amusement that entertains me and frustrates my pets. Upon occasion though a murder will happen. There is no justice or sentence when my cat presents me with a chipmunk. I am only too happy to bury it, thus, I can be assured that my plants and tomatoes will remain mine and not their dinner.
Now the graffiti is another issue. My house often suffers from nature's marks whether from tree berries, animal droppings, or birds slinging the suet on my window. Our cars often have an erratic paisley design on their hoods and tops. The car wash enjoys the business during spring and fall when berries, seeds, and leaves are plentiful. Cleaning the roof and windows challenges us a bit more. It becomes a chore that we have to endure to put the house back in order to make it look like humans inhabit the premises, and we have not been overrun by nature.

Right in my Own Backyard - raccoons - by Brandt Carter
image courtesy of Brandt Carter

Now the weather is another thing. We did have a terribly wet, cool spring. I call it a Red Bud spring because the cool temperatures encouraged the flowering trees to stay for a longer period. And the wet spring brought forth a first in my yard. I was blessed to stumble upon morel mushrooms lining my driveway! This was a first for finding and tasting the delicacy. We had them fried and also in a wonderful cream asparagus pasta. My hope is they will reappear next year! We all know we can't do much about the weather, and we have to adapt to the days. It will be interesting to see how the summer unfolds, hot and dry, hot and humid, hot and hot, or hot and cool. We just get to wait and see.
Finally, it is fun imaging my backyard as a nursery. I have found empty blue eggs from baby robins. I know the rabbits hollow out a soft nest in our yard. As reported, the baby raccoons are plentiful along with the squirrels. The cardinal pairs are plentiful at the feeder, and I have found robin nests and Carolina wrens nesting in the planters. My favorite is the house wren. I talk to her while I work in the garden just below her house where she is raising her chicks.
A backyard is not much different than life. There are weather events, crimes, births and deaths, growth, redevelopment, sports, and news. Take time to go outside whether it is your own backyard or a public space. I like to put life into perspective. . . .If you are an adult, how many spring/summers will you probably experience going forward, or if you have children, how many spring/summers will you have them at home? Observe, enjoy.

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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