Saturday, January 21, 2012

Drama in the Big Backyard, No Time to Quilt


I became very upset one day last week. I love watching the beautiful cardinals that come to my backyard feeder. I think of them as MY cardinals. Well, the dog started barking at the window and I turned around just in time to see a huge hawk swoop down from the tree, snatch a cardinal at the feeder and fly away with it. I felt so sad most of that day. Call me silly, but I hate witnessing this predator-prey aspect of nature. For goodness sake, I live in an URBAN area. We pretend things like that just don't happen.


The week before last, the dog was barking at the window and I thought it was just a squirrel - but when I ran to the window to shoo it away so she'd stop making so much noise, there, skulking between my house and my neighbor's house, was the biggest CAT-like animal I have ever seen. It was not an ordinary house cat, but something much larger and more sinister looking. The squirrels and birds started making a LOT of racket and then it ran away. I was pretty shaken and thought it may have been a bobcat or something. It was that big. I looked it up and saw that bobcats are spotted and have short tails. This cat-creature had a very lonnnng tail and was a pale tan color all over. This will make sense after you read the next paragraph. Besides, what would a bobcat be doing here, in the Chicago area?

After talking to a few neighbors who have dogs, I decided to call the village police to see if anyone else had reported seeing anything like it roaming around. I sure didn't want to run into it while I walked the dogs at night. They said no, are you sure it wasn't a fox? Sheesh, I know what a fox looks like and I was wearing my glasses. This was as big or bigger than my 48-lb dog. Apparently no one had reported anything but the police told me that there had been several COUGAR sightings in a nearby suburb, near a wooded area, and they were on alert. COUGARS??? In the Chicago area?? MY yard?? I remembered that a couple of years ago a cougar was killed by police right in the city proper so I know it's not impossible. Jeepers.


I hear there's also a coyote roaming about the neighborhood. My neighbor's dog walker said one approached him within several yards when he was walking her dog the other day, just a few blocks away. So now we have to be extra careful with our little dog. She doesn't understand why I've been keeping her on a leash and going out there with her every time she needs to pee. Brrr! Seems like 12 times a day . . . More when it's cold, of course.


Dog paw prints? No, I went out there first, before I let them out, right after it snowed, so they hadn't even run through the snow yet. Squirrel tracks? No, much bigger than a squirrel's foot.


You don't think it's BIGFOOT, do you??

So now I'm afraid to let either dog out alone and I spend a little time every day on COUGAR patrol, looking for suspicious tracks in the snow . . .  I won't rest until the neighborhood canines (and I) are safe! Wonder why I'm not getting any quilting done, LOL?


You can tell she's on alert too. Ears perked, adrenaline pumped, ready to rumble . . .  Bring it on, Cougar/Coyote!


The other dog is not quite as nervous. Tells me to relax, figures he can take a coyote any day. LOL, he's a typical male, did you guess? No drama for him. He's much more interested in the ordinary day-to-day stuff that goes on in the big backyard . . .  . What's cooking, good looking?

33 comments:

  1. Wow, that is strange that you have the possibility of cougars in the area. Quite scary.
    It's sad to hear that a hawk took off with a beloved cardinal. I just love them....all birds...except the ones that need to eat the little ones :/ I do love the cardinal against the white snow. So pretty.
    I guess we have bear here in the southeastern Michigan area. Who knew?

    Well I do hope you can get to your quilting and that the fears subside.

    Blessings,
    Sue

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  2. Oh boy - how scary ! The only creatures we get in our garden are hedgehogs and mice - lol ! Do you have hedgehogs in the states ? xxx

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  3. Oh my, how exiting! I love to traces in the snow to know what creatures come to visit us up in the mountain house

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  4. Could it have been a fisher cat? Those are mean and vicious and do come looking for easy prey in yards. We have a hawk in our area and I love watching him soar in the back fields, luckily he has plenty of mice so he hasn't bothered my birds at the feeder.

    Debbie

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  5. No, that's not it. It looked like a cat. Or a very young cougar when I looked up photos. Wish I had had time to get my camera.

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  6. The hawks really are beautiful and I do not begrudge their right to exist here - just don't eat my cardinals.

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  7. Kathleen-It could have been a polecat--we had a pair here last winter howling and screeching away one night. All the neighbors' lights flicked on as they were awakened, too. An eerie horrible sound!! We were dogsitting for 'Kota (pix 0n my sidebar) and she started barking like crazy. I don't ever want to see one again.

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  8. P.S. They are also called fisher cats....I'll bet that is what it was.

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  9. Nope, did not look like a polecat . . . looked like a cougar, but smaller.

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  10. Hello. I just found found your blog and look forward to going back in time and seeing your quilting.
    But first - cougar. AKA Mountain Lion. If you live in MT, they call them plain old Lions.
    Here in So Cal, we have encroached upon their territory and we have learned to co exist. They pretty much feed on the field mice, deer and bunnies (sorry - I know it breaks my heart too). But yes they get the occasional pet if people who live up here are ignorant enough to leave them out over night. They are usually only seen late late at night or early early. But one was seen a couple weeks ago in our park at 10 am lounging on a picnic table. Was not interested in anything other than sunning herself. They truly are gorgeous creatures.
    So just be careful and keep your eyes open.

    Bobcats - we have lots of them- usually in pairs and they look at us like we are an annoyance and continue on their way. We will be sitting at the patio table and they walk right thru like they own the place. Kind of freaked me out at first - we make sure we keep our eyes on our 2 shih-tzus when we are outside. They look like a very large housecoat with no tail.

    I think we have more trouble with coyotes who are mean, nasty HORRIBLE animals. One you can scare off, two - look for something to make you appear bigger and three back away and get out of there because they can take you down.

    Good luck with your "creature". I hope they catch it and relocate it.

    And I'm very sorry about the cardinal. Maybe if you placed something above the feeder so they couldn't be spotted? Or place the feeder under some sort of roof or overhang? We don't have them here - but I've seen them on a trip to Michigan. They are much smaller than I thought!

    Have a good weekend. Karen

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  11. We live in a rural neighborhood and we've seen and heard the hawks. They have eaten 14 of my large pond fish over the last year. When we moved here I counted them, and then there were 12, then 10, then 8........ you get the picture. We did see a deer running through the neighborhood one night, but that was the only wild life I've seen since moving here a year and a half ago. But the hawks are very distressing. They always seem to be on the look out for something.

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  12. Nothing quite that exciting going on in my backyard!! Maybe the odd possum on the roof, python up the tree near the back shed, but nope, no cougars, or coyotes! How scarry, though, those foot prints look awful big!!!!

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  13. You'd think at the very least, the hawk could've eaten an UGLY bird. I remember a hawk landing on a tree branch just outside my kitchen window...geez, they're enormous...beautiful birds. Glad I'm too big to be their prey.

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  14. I remember seeing a movie where a hawk swooped down and grabbed a little dog. Yikes. We have seen owls here too and they scare her.

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  15. Those prints look like a bear paw

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  16. Eeewww, be careful. If it does turn out to be a bear paw like the above post..............you could start making bear paw blocks for a new quilt idea.....

    ok, not funny.

    We see hawks at my house often, looking for lunch. Have seen fox and two coyote before. Heard talk of
    wild pigs in Ohio and that scares me, too.

    Hope your animal is just passing thru.

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  17. wow this is so sad..to watch so closely the family pets..I am in NH, we just had someone in Southern NH let out her dog to go to the bathroom, only to be dragged away by a fox! It was on the major news stations...and we have had two childen bitten by foxes..which is unheard of around here...I love your blog! and I love your animals...

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  18. Yikes...your hawk story brings back memories. My father was recovering from a stroke a couple of years ago - he could walk but had trouble talking. During a 1/4-mile walk to the mailbox, he was attacked by a nesting hawk. He arrived back at the house, scalp bleeding horribly, unable to articulate what had happened. My poor mom wrapped every towel she could lay hands on around his head and took him to the hospital. The ER doctor had never seen a patient who had been attacked by a hawk before. After that, my dad wore a hard hat to the mailbox!

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  19. Sorry to hear about those cardinals. They are so enjoyable to watch. After reading about all the wildlife in your backyard, I'm thankful I live in the country where it is quiet:)

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  20. Sorry to hear about the poor cardinal. It's hard for us city folk to accept what is natural in the animal world. To us, it's so barbaric and pointless, when to them it's survival.
    Those tracks look to me like they were made by a rabbit. You could Google it and check.
    I live in Jerusalem and a couple of years ago my son and I were walking one night when we spotted something ahead of us that looked like a big dog. A REALLY BIG dog. For a couple of minutes, we stood there looking at it from a distance, and it was looking right back at us, and I said to my son, "You know, I don't think that's a dog at all. It looks to me like a hyena." And this was right in the city. Well, the next day I called the zoo and asked them if I could have seen a hyena in the middle of the city, and they told me that yes, there were some wild hyenas in the country, and I could have seen one. Two days later, friends of mine were driving in the same area, and they saw it by the side of the road,in broad daylight, big as life, and definitely a hyena. I'll never forget it. It was probably as scary as seeing a cougar. But I'm sure glad it wasn't in my yard. :)

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  21. I have lived both in the city and country and danger to our pet friends are lurking in both areas.
    NEVER let your dogs outside without you. I was told to bang pan lids together and put on bright outside lights to keep them from our potty trips. It is sad that our pets and small children can not play safely in their own yards. A walk should be a pleasure and not on guard. I follow you daily. Blessings, Brook

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  22. Cardinals are my favorite birds too, I love watching them. I have to keep an eye out for hawks in the backyard. That is the only thing I have seen. These little dogs would really not stand a chance against some of these predators.

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  23. What breed is your little black dog? Hope you have had a more 'pieceful' day.

    Susan (uk).

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  24. Wow, what's going on with wildlife in populated areas? I narrowly missed hitting a dear near a major intersection near my house a while back. That poor little cardinal in your yard!

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  25. Relax... take a deep breath... We have coyote here and there have been sightings of bear. You are doing the right thing... keep your four legged kids on a lead with you at the other end. Even those with electric fences can't keep the wild life out. After all it was there land first and we need to learn to live with them. I know how frightening it could be!

    Keep your eyes and ears open... I even had a Hawk eyeing one of my pups when I had her on a lead one day. I just walked over and stood by her and the Hawk flew away and looked for lunch some other place. We just have to be careful.

    Back to quilting!

    Onalee
    NE Ohio

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  26. That's scary! When I was in high school in a small town in mid-Illinois along the Mississippi River, my Dad, a farmer and a hunter, encountered a cougar and reported it. The authorities and evryone else in town laughed at him and said he didn't know what he'd seen. Funny thing though, every hunter around was out for the next week looking for the cougar that my Dad "didn't" see! Be careful.

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  27. I once saw a hawk pick up a squirrel and I must confess to applauding a little. They are such nuisances in our neighborhood and do terrible damage to the house when they can. But, I love my cardinals and would be so sad to see one of them snatched away right before my eyes. Your big cat story is unnerving. The animals were all confirming that this was no ordinary cat.

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  29. We have coyotes here and they do indeed carry off cats, so small dogs would be just as susceptible. It pays to be careful.

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  30. They look a lot like rabbit tracks.

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  31. Did you ever identify the tracks? Because I have the same pattern...thought rabbit, squirrel, large domestic cat, exotic animal......I live in a heavily populated suburb of Philadelphia!

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