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Written by a college student on her summer break (and who doesn’t have much else to do).


At 4:30 every morning, as the sun begins to rise, the birds break into song. They seem to feel the day approach even when clouds cover the sky. One morning I stirred awake briefly from the thunder growling and heard rain patting on the bedroom windows. My sleepy eyes observed the water pebbles running down the glass, noticing how peculiarly dark it felt outside. Then I squinted and returned to my hazy dreams, faintly hearing the birds’ muffled yet eager peeps and tweets. It is hardly a quiet suburban neighborhood with all these different singers performing in the trees and on the sidewalks.

We receive daily visits from the American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Towhee, Yellow Warbler, Tufted Titmouse, Brown-headed Cowbird, some swallows, Black-capped Chickadee and I think some others, but I’m not sure which. We’ve had one Red-winged Blackbird, an American crow and a Cooper’s Hawk coming by several times. I remember one afternoon when my parents and I were sitting in front of the house, we saw the hawk circle downward and suddenly swooping after a Robin. Not idea who won the battle; they flew away so quickly and out of sight, the predator close to his prey’s tail.

My drawing of a black-capped Chickadee.

My drawing of a black-capped Chickadee.

There is one Mourning Dove who’s been hanging out around our house since May. For some time, she lived in the rain gutter right by my brother’s window. She raised two kids there. Whenever we stuck our heads out the window to look at her, mommy dove and her little bird kids would freeze. They didn’t so much as twitch. I think she lives somewhere else now, but you can still hear her clearly when she sadly coos and hoos.

On a happier note, we got a humming bird couple eating from the red and yellow flowers. I have only seen Missus Hummy, but my mom and dad have been fortunately enough to spot Mister Hummy, too. Beautifully green, black head, sparkly red chest and smoothly waving his bottom tail to maintain balance.

Not every animal is a cutie, though. There is one hot-tempered small squirrel hanging out in our yard. I’ve nicknamed him Azog — after the pale Orc from The Hobbit, you know — because he has a serious Napoleon complex and sputters at everyone. He also looks different from the other squirrels; he is solid brown all over save from his belly and throat which are covered with white fur. For a small fellow he has managed to stretch his territory all around our yard, occupying all the trees and fighting and/or chasing other squirrels coming nearby. He sputters at birds and us, too. He’s tried to sneak into our house several times — we leave the backdoor open — and we’ve had to scare him off. Once he hopped to a tree, climbed to a branch above our heads, and he angrily looked at us and snarled at me and my brother. Crazy bastard. Plus, a few days ago after a harsh-winded storm had pulled through the neighborhood, we heard Azog having a fit when he realized one of his “highways” had blown off. Earlier we had watched him clean this longer branch hanging between two trees from its twigs and leaves. He had used it a lot to get around and it’s funny how the storm destroyed “his property” and how mad he got.

Finally, I want to tell you about Sparks, the baby deer that has used our neighbor’s yard as a daycare. Mama deer has left it there several times and a couple times in our yard, too, under a spruce. We haven’t seen him for a week now, but before she decided to leave him someplace else, we’d see Sparks almost daily since the end of May. He is so adorable and curious. We think the mama is pretty young, because sometimes she has appeared to have forgotten where she left her baby. Small deer don’t evaporate any smell. Cool, huh? That leaves the moms opportunity to go off on their own for a while, to eat or sleep or something, while the babies remain hidden and safe. Sparks has gotten up many times, though (impatient I can imagine) and explored the area.

"Sparks." Copyrights belong to the family Palm.

“Sparks.” Copyrights belong to the family Palm.

What creatures do you people have roaming outside your house? I don’t know about you, but I find it fascinating how animals go about their day like nobody’s business.