Lizzie chases shadows. In the morning, when the sun is shining into the living room, she will lay on the floor, waiting for birds to come to the feeders and make shadows on the floor for her. And when a bird does make a shadow for her, she will bite at shadow while animatedly wagging her tail.
In the winter, on sunny days when the snow can be formed into snowballs, we will throw snowballs in the air so that shadows move across the yard. Lizzie happily chases after those shadows, occasionally barking at them. If our timing and aim is right, the snowball will land on her back as she chases its shadow across the yard.
After the snow melted this spring, there was no handy shadow making materials. Kat got the idea of using balls and purchased a bag of cheap plastic balls. The slow-motion video below is of Lizzie chasing the shadow of a ball and then catching the ball.
In the above video, Lizzie is wearing a bandage on her right front paw. She had a torn nail that was causing her some discomfort, so we bandaged it up. She is all healed up now.
Now that the nighttime temperatures are above freezing, I have deployed our game cameras. I bought an additional camera so I could better understand the movement of animals through our yard. I had only deployed the second camera for a week when I observed a raccoon cross our yard from the west fence to the east fence. I’m hoping to make more observations like that because I’m curious how larger animals such as raccoons and fox move through our fence-enclosed yard.
The seemingly ubiquitous Eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) is the most frequently photographed animal by our game cameras. However, after a red fox was observed in our yard, I noticed there were less rabbit sightings.
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) clearly has no issue getting over our fence. I’m hoping to actually capture an image of one jumping our fence.
I have mixed thoughts about raccoons. One thought I have is they are just another animal passing through our yard like any other animal and they deserve to do so without harassment. Another I have is they have damaged our property and are a host for a type of intestinal parasite (Baylisascaris procyonis) that can infect humans. Realizing that I cannot keep them from our yard, I only undertake to keep them away from our house by utilizing repellants. Otherwise, I leave them be.
This year was the first time a game camera captured an image of a Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). I have seen them previously during both the day and night. Lizzie even found one in the big brush pile at the bottom of the hill, but, they have been eluding our cameras. However, something was triggering the new camera, which I had placed on the east side of the yard, but the camera was failing to capture any images. After I realized the motion sensor had a wider angle of detection than the camera had for image capture, I placed the camera closer to the ground. The next night, the camera captured images of an opossum.
On Nextdoor, people have reported seeing coyotes (Canis latrans) in nearby neighborhoods. Because of that, I don’t let Lizzie out alone at night. At 55 pounds, Lizzie easily outweighs a male coyote (about 30 pounds) but I don’t want her tangling with one regardless. I would, however, like to find images of one on our game cameras.
This is the first year in which I recorded the first observations of the year. The following are a few of our observations:
Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) – I heard but didn’t see the first red-winged blackbird in our yard on Sunday, March 31. This was 10 days after others had seen them in the Twin Cities area. I didn’t see or hear a red-winged blackbird again for at least a month. A pair, however, has set up home near us and are regular visitors to our tray feeder.
I saw the first bumblebees on Monday, May 13.
Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) – I saw a female ruby-throated hummingbird flying around our backyard on Wednesday, May 15. A day later I observed a male in our yard. They now visit our feeders numerous times per day.
Kat saw the first monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on Thursday, May 16.