Cruiser the Social Butterfly Skunk

skunk3So what else could I call her? She is friendly. She is curious. Super cute and yes, she is “aromatic” but she has a schedule and is black and white like a cruiser. Sorry OPP no insult intended but really, she is super smart and has a routine. It’s true skunks have a lot of class.

The first day I met her she was coming straight at me from the garden. She was very young and small. Actually I think she was skipping across the lawn. Kind of comical.  The first thing I noticed was she had no idea who or what I was. Cruiser just went about her business of investigating everything for a food possibility. She was about two feet from me and didn’t really care as much as I did. So I did the next best thing. I froze. So I figured the only thing I could do was introduced myself.My cousin calls me the skunk whisperer, great. After she sniffed my foot and moved away a bit I started talking quietly. Oh and while we are on the subject she was not offended by my garden sneakers, she just moved on. My smelly shoes weren’t that offensive to her, just so you know.

Well, after about 5 minutes she discovered my so called pond. Also known as a big dish with water in it. She had a good drink and off she went. What a relief no more of her surprise visits…not.

Next morning I discovered the cat dishes on their side and all contents gone. I have a raccoon problem as well. I’m so gullible.

That night about the same time, here she comes skipping across the lawn like she was delighted to see me.  Well, before I could say hello and let her know I was there in she pops to the summer kitchen. Right by me without so much as a blink. Straight for the cat food. Really?  So I talked to her thinking that would upset her and she would leave. Nope. So I talked a little louder. No reaction. Fine, just eat enough food for 4 cats all in one sitting. Go ahead, don’t mind me.

It was time to out smart her. I closed the patio door early. Here comes Miss Cruiser  skipping along the lawn straight for the door. She took a few sniffs and walked away. Ha ha I win. She is back. Gone for a drink. She is back. Circles around my chair and me, checking things out. Off she goes. She is back. Okay that is four times checking the door. Off she goes. Down the side walk to the garage. Finally. Ten minutes later and she is back. Honestly the door is staying closed! So off she goes. So I think I win. No so much. Next morning all my planters have been emptied all over my porch. Dirt everywhere. Okay it seemed like a good idea at the time not feed her. What was I thinking?

The next night, is this getting old or is it just me? Here she comes. Wait something else to see. Oh great, she has 3 babies with her. She is a Mommy ! No wonder she was so hungry. Okay I’m a sucker for a hungry animal. I put out a dish.baby-skunks

Two days go by, no visits. Yeah for me. I can leave the door open. I had dinner and decided to sit out side. I open the door and there she is in the summer kitchen pigging out.  So I walk towards her and keep talking. The tail is up. She stamps her feet at me. (normal people would back off, not me I’m not normal)  I stamp back. She leaves. Oh I’m soooo scary.

So next night here we go again. Only this time I’m really stupid. I walk right up to her. I grab a folding chair and give her a push from behind as she is eating. She turns and looks at me. Then does the unthinkable.  No, not that. She walks around the dish to the other side where I can’t reach her. Cheeky. I give up, again, eat the whole bowl. Note to self: buy extra cat food.

So next the encounter of the stinky kind. A few days later. I’m working in the office and notice Pepper, one of the cats watching something. Well, we have Cruiser looking for breakfast. Not a chance.

So I let her have her sniff about. About an hour later I go and let the cats in to eat. At the same time I turn around and picked up some stuff in the summer kitchen. As I turn back the hungry cat has been replaced by a ravenous skunk. What? So she is between me and the door. I had to backup, go through to the wood shed,and  out the door. Get the key to the house and go through the kitchen and living room to come back out the door again. I read on the internet they don’t like to be wet. So I grab a spray bottle and quietly open the door. I start to spray over her, not at her. A few more puffs and she is off. Excellent. This really works. At this point I look at the can I grabbed. Hmmm…..Lysol room freshener. How ironic. Hey, it worked great. I wonder if they know?

So a few days later I open the door in the morning for the cats and the same performance. I figured it out. She is hiding in the bushes and knows the sound of the door opening. Breakfast is served.

The one close call I had was one morning I was watching Barrett, the youngest of the barn cats. Crouched down ready to pounce on her sister, then I realized it wasn’t Pepper ,it was Cruiser. I yelled at her. Cat one way, skunk the other. What a relief.

Haven’t seen her in some time. I figure the kids are grown up and she is giving them life lessons. Maybe in the fall she may come by for late night dinner. Who knows. Kinda miss her.

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911… Hummingbird Down!

It sounds like a bee with a bass buzz. It’s faster  than a butterfly. It’s more persistent than a bug. It’s the tiniest bird you will every see. It’s the Ruby Throat  Hummingbird.

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Ruby throated Hummingbird.

The first time I encountered this mini marvel I kept swinging at it like an annoying bug. I was busy and didn’t look up. I just kept hearing this little buzz.  I finally gave in and stopped what I was doing and looked around. That is when I came eyeball to eyeball with my first hummer. He was a cute little guy. I was stunned and smittened.  Oh, such colours. The wings were a blur. The beak looked menacing and it had piercing black eyes. I was in love.

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Dinner to go!

That was years ago and I have had many encounters with my little feathered friends since. Every year at the cottage we would hang a feeder. No one would believe us so we proved it. We asked the person to stand at the railing on the deck and don’t move. With in a minute my little friend was checking out the new person. He would get about a foot from their face and and flutter up, down and sideways. Sometimes for effect he would zoom in, then zoom out. It was always fun to watch the persons reaction to this trick.  When he did this every person asked the same thing. What does he want? I would just casually say…Oh,he’s just looking. Too funny.

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Hummingbird nest with baby.

The hummer is in it’s nesting zone when it comes across the border. They like  a good area with lots of flowers. We use feeders with sugar water. Some people buy the red feed stuff but it is not good for them. It must be pure white sugar and boiled water,no dye. It does get mouldy fast and can kill them. The feeder also gets dead bugs in it to make it off taste. The bees also like the feeder and will chase the hummer away. Also orioles love the sugar water. The biggest problem I have is the raccoons. They have a real sweet tooth. They will jump at the hanging feeder and hang on until it breaks. The biggest pain on a daily bases. The hummers around the house love to dive bomb my cats. They hear the buzz but can’t figure it out.

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Hummingbird feeder – please don’t use the red dye. Sugar water is best. 1 part sugar to 4 part water bring to a boil and let cool to room temperature.

I just love it when the babies discover the feeder. They play their bird tag games. Don’t move fast or you may get hurt.  In the spring the male comes ahead and the female finds him. How? I don’t know, must be an internal GPS. But when she shows up she sits among the leaves and he will swoop back and forth to impress her. Just makes me dizzy.

One summer at the cottage I got a spoon of sugar water and just sat there. Sure enough the little brave guy came for a drink out of my hand.  We got quite used to each other. I’d be working around the yard and get the feeling I was being watched. Sure enough he would be sitting in a near by branch just watching me. My BFF Best feathered friend!

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Female Hummer on feeder

Then one day he got into a fight with another hummer. He lost a tail feather and could only fly in a circle and loose his balance. He fell to the deck and got wedged in between the boards.Humming bird down! I felt sick. His mate came along and fed him. He couldn’t move so I decided I better take action. My one finger was just wide enough to get into the crack underneath him and I was able to lift him out. It was like an unshelled peanut in my hand. I got him the teaspoon of nectar and he had a good drink. He sat there in my hand looking around and checking me out once in a while. He did a little preening. Then he stretched. Then he tried out his wings. He made an adjustment to his flight pattern and flew  to the nearest tree. He sat there for the rest of the day just watching me.The next day he was back to business. I saw him many more times just sitting and watching me. I knew he would do okay and he did.

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Young Female

So when we bought this house in the country the former owner had a big request. I had to feed Purvis. So I’m wondering what wild animal was that. Oh, just my resident hummer. Can you believe it, He was stunted and so so very tiny. But make no mistake he was the boss around here. You tick him off and he would be in your face just a humming away with those wings. And he would have a loud twitter/chirp to be telling you off. No escape from him.

Here’s hoping you get to have a face to face  with these amazing birds. I guarantee you will fall in love and be well entertained with every encounter.

Trumpet Vines

Trumpet Vines

Pictures from All-free-download.com