Interesting Critter Encounters

“Much of human behavior can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.” 
~Suzy Kassem


I love this quote, as it explains perfectly why I love to watch nature.  And for the last 7 and a half years on this blog, I have enjoyed sharing stories about the wildlife I have observed in and around my garden. Always fascinating, our critters bring us daily joy.  So I thought I would share a few recent stories with you…..



In August, around the time of the solar eclipse, our weather was finally dry which was good news for my saturated garden.  But not great news for the birds, especially the smaller birds looking for a bath.  But birds are resourceful, and can use dirt or sand instead of water to bathe….isn’t that cool!



This Common Wren, was observed on the patio twisting and turning for at least 20 minutes or more as it rubbed its body in the sand and dirt.



Not only was he spinning his head 180 degrees, he seemed to really enjoy the experience.  They say birds perform this grooming ritual to clean their feathers and remove parasites.  Birds sure do enjoy dust or sand-bathing as much as water bathing.  I am always amazed at the resourcefulness of animals, as they remind me that the most important thing is to take care of our basic needs. 



This winter we have observed more deer than in recent years.  A few harsh winters killed a great many of them, but a couple of mild winters now seems to have helped their numbers much to the chagrin of communities around our area where they are hiring hunters to cull (kill) large numbers because of the damage they are doing to gardens.



I don’t believe we should interfere as nature seems to take care of her numbers if there is a balance.  Of course as we take habitats and predators away, we get large numbers of deer in our gardens, unchecked.



Early as winter began, we saw 3 very young deer wandering around front gardens trying to find food.  It is unusual to see these young ones without mothers.  So we assumed they were orphans now fending for themselves. It is tempting, but we do not feed deer, as it is illegal to feed them here in NY.



And the larger groups of deer in the area have been seen chasing these orphans out of their territory unwilling to share food and shelter especially this winter.  Recently we saw them. They are still growing and surviving.



We are hopeful they will make it on their own….homeless, trying to find their way. These deer remind me that connections are so important.  The connections may not be immediate family, but instead may be those we can trust and rely on in our most vulnerable times.



And finally we observed some strange squirrel behavior recently.  On a very frigid day, with temps in the -20s, I saw this squirrel hanging from one of our ash trees.



It’s not strange to see a squirrel hanging onto a tree, but this one was spread eagle flat against the tree bark.



After about 15 minutes, I watched it adjust itself and spread out even more.



And it hung on for at least another 20 minutes.  So what was this squirrel doing?  My best guess is he was warming himself against the tree bark that had been warmed in the sun.  A pretty good problem solver….of course I often find squirrels to be pretty ingenious.

What do you think this squirrel was doing?  Have you ever seen a squirrel do this?



Do you enjoy observing nature?  What lessons has nature taught you recently?



A  Memorable Vase



I really am enjoying the Hippeastrum bulbs I purchased this year.  This one is called, ‘Cocktail’…great color.  I paired it with a stem of Dragon-wing begonia foliage.



It had 4 blooms or so I thought.  These have lasted for a couple of weeks, and a surprise 5th bloom recently formed to use for another vase.  

I am joining Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful In A Vase on Monday meme. The pictures shared here were created with my iPod Touch camera and two free apps, Pixlr and Prisma.

I am posting poetry, almost weekly on Sundays, on my other blog, Living From Happiness.  You can read my latest poem here.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2018.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


  1. Kathy says:

    Interesting Donna! I used to watch the house sparrows and mourning doves dust bath in my raised beds before planting time or when there is an open spot and always thought to myself I will put out a tray of sand for them. I read it was to rid them of lice/parasites. Here, I just watched a yellow bellied sap sucker fish the corn out of a tray of food I have out and hide the kernels in the cracks of the palm trees – so fun to watch! I wish the best for your three sisters (deer)!

    • Donna says:

      The sisters are out almost every evening now and seem to find food in our meadow and compost. Your sap suckers sound like a hoot to watch!

  2. Kathy says:

    p.s. I’m noticing I cannot “like” many blog posts lately even when signed in in WordPress or google. I don’t know if this is some sort of glitch or something I need to update.

  3. Cathy says:

    The begonia foliage is a loevly match for your intoxicating hippeastum, Donna! Interesting to read about your wildlife today too and it’s always intriguing to see the effect of Pixlr and Prisma apps on your photos. Thanks for sharing

  4. Patsi says:

    Nice and peaceful post. My day starts with sitting by the kitchen window and watching our limited wildlife activity outside. Always puts a smile on my face.

  5. Eliza says:

    I love observing the birds particularly, though we see all sorts of critters around here. With the snow, their tracks are interesting. My favorite is sighting an otter slide in the snow near the river. Lots of neighbors we seldom see without their telltale tracks!

    • Donna says:

      Oh I would love to see an otter slide….fabulous! We know who is visiting in winter because of tracks….and we are lucky that our land is up against a wild area and the critters have adopted us!

  6. Kris P says:

    I love your wildlife pics, Donna. The bird bathing in the dust reminded me of my cat, who loves to be let out on the patio on warm days (of which we’ve had many of late) to roll around and cover herself in dirt. (She doesn’t appreciate being dusted off when she’s locked back into her screen porch.) I can’t say I’ve seen a squirrel splay itself on a tree like that to warm up (no need here probably!) but they are smarter than they’re given credit for being.

  7. AlisonC says:

    How clever of the squirrel if it was, indeed, doing that. It’s the same way I hug a radiator if I’m feeling chilly! My hens have made their own dust bath under cover in this wet weather. They do love it.
    These hippeastrums really are good value.

    • Donna says:

      I hug the fireplace myself which is why I thought the squirrel was trying to warm up. I do love the Hippeastrum I bought this year.

  8. Peter says:

    Beautiful arrangement! Animals certainly are resourceful and are great teachers. Looks to me like your squirrel is a tree huger. 🙂

  9. Anna says:

    Oh it’s fascinating to read your ‘critter stories Donna. We’re in a small town so there are no deer in the vicinity but we do have grey squirrels always present in the garden. I have seen them cling on to trees in the same way as you’ve photographed and have wondered what they are up to. I like your sunbathing theory 🙂 Your vase is most bright and cheery.

    • Donna says:

      Thank you so much Anna….how interesting you have seen your squirrels do this too….so I researched about the squirrels and it is thought they are warming themselves when they do this.

  10. Indie says:

    Oh how interesting! I’ve never seen a bird take a dust bath before. I’ve never seen a squirrel behave like that either. Browsing deer, on the other hand, I’ve seen too much of that, ha!

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