The Tiny Bandits Return

I don’t know how much longer I can go without pulling out another bird post.  The anxiety is giving me a twitch, but I’ll persevere.  Pulling these babies out because it helps to remind me what it was like when there wasn’t SNOW on the ground.  This  Winter is unbelievable capped off by a 46 degree day Sunday, Thunder Snow on Tuesday, Snow on Wednesday and now 46 again today.  If there is a silver lining, I’ve been able to get two of my training runs outside this week!

Although this post features the babies, it seems only right that I give a quick shout out to their mother.  As much as I enjoy Raccoon babies, adult Raccoons are a menace.  However, since I will not harass expecting mothers or parents with their children this particular adult (mother) went unharmed.

Clearly she didn’t recognize my benevolence based on the hostility being issued in my general direction.  Relax, you and your babies will live another day.. but I will be getting my camera because those babies are just too damn cute.  One given with these young ones, when spooked they always head to the trees.  Typically the mother will high tail it into the woods in an attempt to draw me away.  She’ll hang out under the cover until the cost is clear and then start calling them out of the tree.

I am pretty sure the mother had either met tragedy or decided they were old enough to fend for themselves when they returned a number of weeks later.  If the coyotes were not enough danger, our neighbors have no tolerance for them (regardless of age).  When their off my property they are pretty much tempting fate every minute they makes themselves visible.  On the other hand, when they found my temporary feeder location on the porch they definitely took advantage.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a number of offspring while living out here in the deep woods.  Typically there are 3 to 4 in each litter that make it to this age.  The makeup of that litter is also surprisingly common.  There’s the more aggressive one that is less fearless than the others and is the first to come out into the open.

Then there will be one that is way to timid – the last to emerge from the woods and the first to high tail it out of the area if there is any unexpected sound or motion.  Want to guess which one tends to meet an unfortunate end the first?  It is the more aggressive one – not smart enough to now its limitations and will cease to show up in a week or two.  Oddly enough, the overly timid one will go missing a little bit after that – to timid to nourish properly and thus unable to be strong enough to avoid the threats.  It is kind of sad looking at the litter and being able to guess which ones will not make it.  The middle one or two have a much greater chance of making it to adulthood.  Good news for them, but once they become adults they lose their cuteness protection and they are subject to my wrath if they start pillaging my feeders or tearing up the place – and trust me, those opposable thumbs can do some serious destruction.

hit the jump to see a few more shots of these cute creatures

Continue reading The Tiny Bandits Return

The Thrill of Shooting Babies

RELAX! RELAX!… that’s just a clever hook to get you to walk in the door.  Although I’m comfortable behind a handgun or rifle, I was referring to my other hobby – “shooting” wildlife with my CAMERA.  Clearly the big game and birds dominate our photo outings, but every once in awhile we are lucky enough to have the smaller subjects drop by the house for some quick posing.  This is exactly what happened back in June.  I was piddling around (Linda’s words) when I stumbled upon one seriously pissed off raccoon.  Now I am not a big fan of adult raccoons firmly believing that they are one evolution away from throwing us off the top of the food chain.  They clearly spend their free time thinking of clever ways to wreak havoc on our house – especially the bird feeders (and not wasting it on Internet searches for Hank Williams Jr.)  .  Fortunately for them, I have a golden rule – The Young Shall Not Be Harmed Nor Adults In Company Of Their Young.  I know the consequences when they become adults, but everyone should have a right to enjoy the innocent years.  The 8 baby mice that I came across in our propane tank lid resulting in having to spent 45 minutes rounding up and coaxing their mom to lead each to safety last month can attest to this (probably should be some commas in that beast of a sentence).  I know that some will make it to adulthood to drive me nuts but convictions are convictions.

I’ve had enough encounters with raccoon mothers to know when babies are close.  Like this one they turn nasty and start hissing and baring their teeth.  Due to being an evolution away, they eventually recognize their shortcomings and try to draw the danger away.   If you simply stand your ground they eventually give up and head for safety.  Don’t be fooled, they do not go very far but create enough distance from you that you tend to forget they are out there.  Whenever this happens I start looking to the trees to see what was worth trying to protect.  One thing their mother’s always teach their offspring – when in trouble take the high ground.  This eliminates a large number of threats around here and cats pretty much want no part of this game.  Sure enough, not far from where I was standing was this:

How cute is that!  As much damage their parents have done around here I’m going to get a little benefit.  Linda happened to come out of the house at the same time so I had her grab the camera.  Raccoon babies are excellent photographic subjects.  They tend to stay stationary and have a cute factor that is through the roof.  The struggle with this one was getting the composition right – no matter which angle I took there were leaves in the way (not too surprising since we do live in the woods).  The wind was also blowing adding another factor to the mix.  A few minutes into the shot we were greeted with another surprise.

Score – double cuteness.  They were fairly calm about the whole ordeal likely due to the fact I’d come upon them before and let them pass without harm – no camera then though.  Our attention kept them very alert.  Their ears were nicely tuned forward and for the most part they kept those eyes wide open (very glint friendly).  See that paw clinched onto the tree?  Should this particular baby make it to adulthood, that paw will be continually testing all my bird feeder protections.  Note, when looking some information up on these critters I was shocked to learn that they do NOT have an opposable thumb yet since I was a kid always thought they did – another childhood education fallacy in the vein of the Brontosaurus and Pluto – they may actually be more than one evolution away now.

There’s more (literally) .. hit the jump!

Continue reading The Thrill of Shooting Babies