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A Thief at the Bird Feeder

IMG_8995It was strange. I was sitting in the visitor center at Whitewater State Park, looking out the windows at the bird feeders. I love to just watch the birds. Suddenly, something startled the birds away. At first, I thought it had been me. Then I saw something furry on the ground close to the window. Only its back was in view. Grayish, black, with hints of brown. It could have been any number of mammals. I walked up to the window for a closer look. It was a raccoon. He climbed up the post of the bird feeder and sat in the bottom feeder. His little paws, which look remarkably like little human hands, moved rapidly to pick up the bird seed and shove it in his mouth. He ate greedily. Though generally viewed as a pest it was fun to watch his cute little paws move. Then he climbed to the top feeder. He started to eat some more. Suddenly, he got a glimpse of me. He paused. Stuck his head out, peering at me. He wasn’t the least bit afraid. It was neat to make eye contact with a raccoon. Shortly, he went back to stuffing his face with such dainty little paws. I took the opportunity to get several close-up photos of a raccoon. He dined for a good fifteen minutes. After he ate his fill, he leaned over on to the bird bath for a drink. It was comical to watch him, stretched between the feeder and the bird bath, back paws clinging to the feeder, front paws gripping the bath. He drank. Head first, he climbed down the feeder. He slowly wondered off under the benches of the amphitheater. I thought he had left. Birds came back to the feeder. A few minutes later, he came waddling back to eat some more sunflower seeds that had fallen on the ground. He didn’t stay long this time however. I sat back down to write this and by the time I was done he was gone. Either he was full now or the rain chased him home. I caught one more glimpse of him at the top of the amphitheater.

IMG_9012Raccoons are funny little creatures. They aren’t too shy either. My first encounter with a raccoon was when I was very young, not older than ten. My brothers and I were playing in our woods. All of a sudden a large raccoon wonder into our midst. We were more curious than scared. There was probably a burning desire to touch it, was it soft or course? Being fascinated with wild things, I wanted to observe it. The raccoon wasn’t happy with us however. It barred its teeth at us and hissed. Luckily, that’s all. Raccoons will bite and can be quite fierce. This one wandered away from us as quickly as possible. Of course, we followed it a little ways. I have seen several raccoons since then, but they have all been at a distance. This winter, a raccoon sauntered through our yard. We were a little surprised to see it.

IMG_9006Raccoons are adorable, with their masked face, and tiny, human like hands. However, they are mischief makers, carriers of disease, and can be quite vicious. They like to help themselves to corn in the garden and fields. They also find their way into dumpsters to rummage for leftover food. Unfortunately they wander onto roads but not off. They, like any other creature, have a purpose and a role to fill. I enjoy seeing them around.

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