05 August, 2009

Wildlife on the Patio

So, we built the patio to replace the rotting deck and are looking forward to spending more time outside enjoying the Minnesota summer and (early) fall. We had no idea what an attraction the patio would be to wildlife. If we had known, we would have built it years ago! Below is a sampling of what we have seen.
First up is a collage of the wild turkey extended family. This is a group of 3 hens with merged offspring. They started with at least 18 young, but I think a couple have been lost along the way. They are preyed upon by coyotes (which we hear howling almost nightly) and owls (there are least 3 Great Horned Owls that we hear calling back and forth in the woods behind the house). They have been exploring the patio during each stage of construction and are happy to see the birdseed has reappeared. One year we watched all summer long as 11 chicks (or is it "poults" for turkeys?) matured and were excited to see such a large number survive, only to come home from work one day to find little lifeless turkey bodies strewn across the road where they had been wiped out by a vehicle. That was a very sad day. It is a successful breeding season when a handful survive to the next year. We will keep our fingers crossed for this bunch.

This tattered butterfly was attracted to the sun-warmed, damp soil that had been delivered for the new flowerbeds. I was not able to get very close to it, so this photo is severely cropped and of fairly low resolution. JD was "helping" me with this shot. ;-)

Another butterfly first for me was this Red Admiral (I think) that was sipping water from between the patio pavers. You can also see the birdseed between the pavers.
This wasp stayed on the window screen while I pulled a patio chair over to stand on to get closer to it. The light was rather dim and I didn't have the camera flash set (duh!), so the picture is a little blurry due to the long, hand held exposure while I was standing balanced in the chair.
The last set of photos is a series of little muddy pawprints on the retaining wall. Raccoons had actually made mudpies on the patio in the early morning hours after a torrential rainfall during the night. I didn't think to photograph the mudpies before I hosed them off, but the pawprints were still there when I got home from work. You can clearly see how hand-like their paws are.
They are very endearing creatures and amazingly smart; with those opossable thumbs, they also have a lot of destructive potential. A number of years ago, we saw a mother raccoon showing her 6 little young the very sophisticated birdfeeder that had 5 tubes for different seeds that we had hanging over the bench on the deck. I looked out a little later and, no lie, saw the little ones making a pyramid of 3,2,1 on the bench so that the top one could reach the bottom of the birdfeeder. The next morning, we discovered the birdfeeder disassembled. We were not able to figure out how to put it back together. I left it out hoping the raccoons would reassemble it, but nothing doing. ;-)


  1. The patio is certainly becoming a draw for the wildlife. It's good to know they quickly return after a bit of upheaval.
    Love that story at the end about the Raccoons lol

  2. It does seem to be a real haven that is perhaps a little more sheltered than the old deck. The weekend weather forecast calls for especially warm temps with a thunderstorm on Sunday; it will be fun to see what shows under those conditions!


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