Thursday, January 31, 2013

Searching the Anti-Cline

Tom has seen no deer, no big horn, and no tracks of either since the cattle arrived. Today he will search the lower benches of the Anti-Cline to see if they have gone to higher ground. Tom has seen no one on the trail this year but today from on the side of the Anti Cline he spots a single hiker heading south on the trail to Lockhart Basin.

New On The Porch: Ringtail #2

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Hot Dog for One Ear Today

You're a Strange One

As if Tom has any room to talk, One Ear eats the cat food but each time he/she goes for a piece of hot dog, One Ear takes it down to the sidewalk, eats it there and then returns. On the way back briefly visiting where the skunks and ringtails eat. Considering One Ear's timid behavior, that could have an earless or stinky ending. When the meal is done the hotdog is gone.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Tuesday morning, little bit of sun poking through, and just coming over the Anti-Cline hitting the lodge. Any second the songbirds will be showing up for feeding. Tom opens the office blinds as the first one lands across the driveway and starts to feed. There's something just to the left of the bush, it's motionless, it's a Sharp-shinned hawk waiting for the first songbird to walk around the corner.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Morning, One Ear, and Two Ears

Morning comes, with about a 150 songbirds. One Ear shows up very wet and it hadn't rained for five or six hours. Wherever One Ear is living, it's not working. While One Ear is eating on the front porch Tom looks out onto the back porch and just below it is a Gray fox with two ears (Tom had forgotten they come that way).

Old Jeep Road

Tom hikes the Old Jeep Road towards the Wind Caves.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It Was Weird

After the entertaining creature behavior on the porch earlier Wednesday night there was an earthquake around 10pm. Tom walked outside and could hear the wave going back and forth in the Colorado breaking ice up as it traveled from near to far and back. On Thursday few birds showed. Tom saw the Sharp-shinned once, neither the skunk or ringtail showed and One Ear didn't show until nearly dark. It was Tom's hope he'd get a sunny day, pull some solar lights up on the porch and be able to video the Little People eating. There was no sun and they didn't show. Perhaps the earthquake spooked the critters. Friday was all back to normal. Hundred plus birds showed up. One Ear was waiting and the skunk and ringtail both made brief appearances to steal hot dogs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

One Ear (and Two Thirds)

The easiest way to distinguish between a Red and Gray fox is the black stripe down the Gray fox's tail. It looks like One Ear's right ear is growing back and when One Ear senses danger it appears that the black stripe stands up.

Comes the Darkness, Comes the Little People

It was cloudy with a strong moon when the darkness came. The twin Gray foxes came to the porch first. With a disagreement one left. A Gray fox ate at a pile of cat food. A Ringtail appeared at the other. They cautiously eyed each other but ate at their pile. Then came the God of Hell and Fire. A very small Spotted skunk jumped up between them squealing and screaming. It charged the Gray fox which backed up. It turned and ran towards the Ringtail which fell backwards. It ate a little out of the Ringtail pile and vanished under the porch. Momentarily stunned the Ringtail and Gray fox both slowly returned to their pile of cat food. But a minute had passed when the fireball exploded out from under the porch and attacked the Ringtail which retreated ten feet but by then the Spotted skunk was charging the Gray fox which ran down the ramp. The Spotted ate for two or three seconds out of the Gray fox food pile and again vanished under the porch. Tom opened the front door and they all ran in different directions. Tom refilled both piles of cat food and poured a sufficient amount under the porch. Shortly thereafter was an earthquake and when Tom stepped outside to see if there was damage all three piles were gone. Only got a little of the Gray fox in the video before it got too dark.

One Ear and the Thief

Tom saw One Ear come up on the porch in the rear view mirror as he was headed to town on Tuesday and then again when he got back. On Wednesday Tom set out new cat food, bacon, and a hot dog in six pieces. He knows when One Ear is present as he can hear him eating the cat food. Tom hadn't heard One Ear but when he went out to chase off the Sharp-shinned on one occasion he noticed the hot dog was gone. One Ear arrives, eats a little, then something disturbs him and he takes off. Tom sets out a second hot dog and it's not long before the culprit shows up.

It's Personal

Tom went to town Tuesday cause he was bout out of cat food and hot dogs for critters. Returning he walked around the property and didn't find a clump of feathers anywhere but did find one rock outcrop where the Sharp-shinned set all day while he was gone, distinguished by a day of hawk crap. Wednesday morning Tom walks outside to feed the songbirds and the Sharp-shinned is waiting. He chases it off. Ten minutes later, it's back. Off, fifteen minutes later, back. Off, back, off, back..........17 times. It's not like he went in the back yard where Tom can only guess he's there by the way songbirds come flying around the lodge or over the roof. He came right out front and planted his butt where Tom could see him out the front window.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday: Sharp-shinned and One Ear

It was same ol, same ol, with the Sharp-shinned. The Sharp-shinned/Songbird issue will have to work itself out. It got almost up to 30 today and a few more days it's time to go exploring. One Ear continues to mend. Looks a little better, appears a little sharper each day. Ate every bit of the food off the front porch today. Not all the way there yet. After eating on the porch, though not on video, One Ear walked across the driveway to take small pieces of corn where the Songbirds feed. All the Songbirds took off when One Ear approached and he ducked down when they departed thinking something was coming after him. It was clear he never realized he's what the Songbirds were scared of as he continued to look in every direction while approaching to feed.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday: If Sharp-shinneds Could Talk. They Can. They Do.

Everything's a mess. The Sharp-shinned stayed on the outer edges of Base Camp where Tom wouldn't chase it. Few songbirds came to either the front or side feeding grounds. The few times they did they stayed deep in cover only coming out for a moment to gather food and retreat back into the bushes. Tom would go outside assuming they were pinned down and they would all fly off. While the songbirds used to flock to Tom whenever he came outside, after Tom's hundreds of appearances to chase off predators they now equate Tom's presence to a predator being about and fly off. Towards the end of the day the Sharp-shinned was behind bushes in the front feeding area unknown to Tom. Tom walked outside to see why the Songbirds wouldn't come out and drove them right into the Sharp-shinned waiting on the other side. The Sharp-shinned got stampeded by about fifty songbirds coming out it's side of the bush. While Tom was sitting on a bench on the front porch trying to decide his next move the Sharp-shinned returned and landed in the Cottonwood tree 50 feet away. Staring directly at Tom it talked up a storm and kept going at him until Tom finally stood up and kept walking toward it until it flew away, complaining the whole time. When Tom returned to the porch he heard two skunks fighting under the porch for the third straight day. Well, he hopes they're fighting or he'll have three to five baby skunks in forty five days all doing handstands on the sidewalk when guests begin arriving.

Sunday: One Ear

It's encouraging to watch day to day improvement of One Ear. Again spending most of the day around Base Camp and coming to the porch over and over. Ate all the chicken and all the cat food. Tom restocked two piles of cat food half an hour before dark for when the twin Gray foxes arrive. One Ear showed again and ate one of those piles. Knowing the arrival of the Twins was imminent One Ear stuffed as many pieces of bread in it's mouth as possible and then left to the east so as not to run into the Twins who showed up about five minutes later from the west always timing it perfect so it's dark enough that nothing shows up on camera.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Round Three: Sharp-shinned

The Sharp-shinned switched strategies today. Tom would walk out and chase it off. It would go 50 feet and land, get chased off, go 50 feet and continued doing that until it found a place where Tom wouldn't pursue it. The Sharp-shinned was correct. There is a place where it can land within view of the lodge and Tom will not pursue. Tom won't pursue across the river, at the top of the cliffs, high in the rocks, above the hogans......and by the end of the day the Sharp-shinned had tested the limits of pursuit on 20 or so occasions and knew where it's safety zone was and that's where it stayed, within view of the lodge, too far to be chased, but close enough to do damage if it got the opportunity.There were always a few songbirds high in the bush, Cottonwood tree, or Desert Willow watching the Sharp-shinned while the songbirds on the ground would run out grab food and run back into the bush. It was a miserable day for the songbirds.

Saturday: One Ear

One Ear was at Base Camp most of the day walking around and watching. Tom took some chicken out to One Ear and he/she started to retreat to the river. Tom whistled and One Ear came back and ate the chicken and eventually all the cat food. One Ear left about 30 minutes before dark and the twin Gray foxes showed up right after. One came to the porch and the other went over and ate any sun flower seeds it could find and then joined the other one on the porch for cat food.

Friday: One Ear

One Ear is making progress. Walks a little straighter and seems more alert. Still One Ear is at the very bottom of nature's totem pole around Base Camp. Even the songbirds don't fear One Ear and continually harass One Ear at the feeding ground as you see in the first video. In the second video One Ear comes to the porch and eats one piece of chicken. Then a skunk fight breaks out under the porch and One Ear packs as much food as it can into it's mouth and then takes off. Time to clean some windows.On One Ear's fifth trip to the lodge today he/she finishes off the bread and the cat food. Looking a little more relaxed sitting on the porch or perhaps all the food it ate today it just can't stand up anymore.

Friday Round Two: Sharp-shinned

It's the second day in a row where the Sharp-shinned has picked a spot and appears anxious to see how many times Tom will come out from that same spot and drive it off. As the Sharp-shinned is learning the answer is as many as it takes.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Different Day, One Ear

When Tom walks outside in early morning to feed the birds, One Ear is waiting by the side of the lodge and watches Tom distribute sunflower seeds and bird food. Tom puts out bread for One Ear who eats it. Later when maintenance people are here One Ear returns, sees Jon and starts to back off. Jon whistles to One Ear who stops, turns around and comes back to finish eating. Later in the day One Ear eats cat food off the front porch. Seeming to have a little trouble getting the cat food down but better than yesterday. Tonight Tom had a couple pieces of chicken left over. We'll see how tomorrow goes. Baby steps. Baby steps.

The Predator Wars

Three Sharp-shinned hawks, two small (probably male) Cooper's hawks, one Peregrine falcon (sounding like a Christmas rhyme) and a Loggerhead Shrike in the Cottonwood tree, all of which Tom thought he had a handle on. Now, what appears to be a falcon showed up and took a Junco yesterday. Though not able to get to the camera in time there is now also a monster Cooper's hawk and she is terrifying. With songbirds hiding at the bottom of brush, the monster Cooper's spreads it's wings out almost engulfing the bush while crashing down into it with talons extended. She will then rise six feet back into the air and come crushing down on the bush again. Tom probably makes fifteen, maybe more runs to the front or back of the lodge chasing off various birds of prey. By being able to see the songbirds out the office window and how they react to the latest threat Tom has a pretty good idea of who the predator is and where it's located while he's heading to the door. Today it was a Sharp-shinned that messed with him the most. Tom chased it off, waited, and just with the way the Sharp-shinned was talking when it left Tom knew it wasn't over. 15 minutes later it was back at the same bush. Tom chased it off, waited, and 15 minutes later it returned again.

Spotted Skunk

The Spotted skunk is a funnier character than even the Ringtail. When he came down the porch today he didn't see Tom motionless sitting out front. Sniffed at his boot and walked right by. When Tom pulled the camera up he went under the porch. The Spotted skunk will warn you when he's mad by stomping his front feet. If you continue to approach, it will do a handstand on it's front feet (I kid you not) pointing it's butt at you. If you continue to approach it will turn it's body into a U shape both looking at you and aiming it's hind quarters at you simultaneously. While the average Striped skunk can spray up to ten feet, the Spotted has been known to go as far as 20 feet.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tough Day Continued

Three times a never seen before by Tom raptor dives on the song birds and the best view Tom can get of him is in the first video. The third time Tom sees the song birds in utter panic flee in every direction. In the fifteen seconds it takes Tom to arrive out front there is not a single song bird in sight and it's completely quiet. Tom finds a significant number of what appear to be male Junco feathers under the Cottonwood tree. No song birds return for the last 45 minutes of daylight. Not one.

Tough Day

The one eared Gray fox drops by the lodge every few hours. Walking head down, aimless, and even with people working around the lodge doesn't seem to care. One Ear tries to eat cat food but can't swallow. The next three times One Ear visits sunflower seeds at the song bird feeding ground are all it can eat. As darkness falls, One Ear is eating sunflower seeds when two smaller Gray foxes come up the side walk together. One of the smaller Gray foxes sees One Ear eating sunflower seeds and breaks off to chase One Ear off while the other comes to the porch for cat food. The smaller Gray fox stays to eat the remaining sunflower seeds. It's almost dark in the last video but you can see one Gray fox on the porch eating, another across the driveway between the bushes eating, and at 1:40 of the last video you see One Ear having been driven off jump over the tortoise fence in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One Ear

Through the office window Tom spots a Gray fox walking down the hill toward the lodge. As it gets a little closer Tom can see that much of it's right ear is missing, it has a bit of a limp, and when it eats the cat food it appears to hurt. Three times it appears on the porch during the day. After the second time Tom places two torn up slices of bread out front and it prefers the bread over the cat food. The night before Tom saw two Gray foxes come to the porch to eat but they both had two ears.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Here Kitty Kitty, Wait, Nevermind

Monday Morning with Ringtail

In Tom's opinion, this is not the same Ringtail that lived here last winter. This one appears to be much younger. They're always funny though.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Messing with Tom

The Cooper's decided since Tom had previously spent a couple days harassing it, was his turn. Tom looks out the window, song birds are gone. Outside the Cooper's is sitting on the grill. As Tom approaches he starts talking. Tom follows him to the back porch where he flies off and disappears. Tom goes back in the office. No song birds come back. Walking outside there he is above the grill on the front porch. Around to the ladder on the back porch. Then the parking area. Reverses direction to the back porch. Tom walks around and can't find him. Tom sits back down in the office, no song birds return. Tom travels to the front porch and there he is on a hay bale at the fire pit. This time Tom watches him fly across the river and land on the other side. On all three journeys around the lodge he told Tom off while making funky head motions. Out of third person for a moment, I've grown to like this Cooper's. I know he's trying to kill song birds but he doesn't take crap and man does he have attitude. Each time I go to chase him off he talks smack. Today in theory I was chasing him off but in real life he was just messing with me.

Cooper's and Junco

Tom sees the Cooper's come in and hears a song bird hit a front porch window. Out the door he can't see the Cooper's but knows he's out there. He's nearly invisible. Once the Cooper's is gone Tom finds a male Junco on the front porch dazed. In what has become a fairly common situation this week, Tom takes the Junco into the office to warm up. Once it flaps it's wings and shows head movement Tom returns it to the front porch.

Bad Luck

This is the Loggerhead Shrike (butcher) who sneaks up on song birds by pretending to be one and then holds them down and eats them. The second picture is the Downey woodpecker. Unfortunately for him/her, looks pretty similar to the Shrike with the dark mask around the face and eyes. Each morning when the Downey gets here all the song birds scatter. The Downey will peck on wood on the Cottonwood or Desert Willow and almost immediately the song birds return.

Friday, January 11, 2013

There Was a Time....

There was a time when the area across the driveway "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was all White-tailed Antelope squirrels. The Juncos, House Finch, and White-crowned sparrows have all tried to make this area their exclusive feeding ground all to be driven off by the White-tailed Antelope squirrels. The Brown-headed Cowbirds had mediocre success and then one day they all disappeared. However the Juncos, House Finch, and White-crowned together have been more than a match for the White-tailed Antelope squirrels and though a few show up now and then it's unlikely they'll be getting their spot back anytime soon.

Thursday Evening

It was cold all day and then at sunset a storm blew thru but with warm air and when it got dark it was 18 outside, an hour later it was 38 and for the first time in nearly a month the temperature got above freezing. For 75 days of hiking Tom had planned for winter he's gotten in three so far. It's working out though as the entertainment has been coming to him right out the office window.

Ringtail Cat

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Junco, Cooper's and Ringtail....Oh My

When Tom returns to the office the 3rd Junco notifies him he's ready to leave. Tom sits back down at the desk, looks out the window and the Cooper's is back in the bushes trying to get song birds.
Tom puts cat food on the porch and the Ringtail shows up right away.
Returning to the office, the Junco is between the blinds and the window as Tom had hoped. Tom waits a few minutes to be sure that the Ringtail is full and the Cooper's is gone and takes the remaining Junco outside.


It's been six days since Tom has seen either a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's hawk. The Loggerhead Shrike comes to visit occasionally and is chased off. There are a hundred plus song birds out front when Tom sees the Cooper's hawk coming in from the south. Half the birds head to shrubbery and half to flight. Tom rushes out the door as the Cooper's lands in the bushes. Three blurs shoot by his head as he runs across the driveway. The Cooper's departs. When Tom turns back for the lodge he sees three male Junco's lying on the front porch. All have hit the well marked front door trying to escape the Cooper's. As Tom picks up the first one he trips over a Ringtail cat who's showed up to collect the song birds. Tom takes all three Junco's into the lodge to assess their condition. After half an hour or so of being held and warmed two are ready for release.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


First is the Cottontail rabbit hopping through it's journey. The back two feet land close enough together that it appears to be one track. If it were under duress the rear two feet would be spread apart, one behind the other, indicating it was running.
The side by side tracks clue a creature that bounds and in this case only the rear two feet are showing up so it's likely a Kangaroo rat. These tiny creatures when startled with the headlights of your jeep in the night can jump six to eight feet in a single bound.
In Tom's opinion the 3rd set of tracks are of a weasel. The critter is riding low in the snow and dragging it's feet and possibly a tail from step to step.