City Critters in Saint Paul

Red-Fox

Wildlife thrives in Saint Paul.
This morning, I roused two Red Tailed Hawks feeding on Mouse in my backyard. They flew off over our neighborhood community garden and disappeared beyond the rooftops. Hawks are frequently seen perched atop light posts along the I-94 corridor.

While I was out driving, Deer leapt across Shepard Road, then vanished into the woods. Golden Eagle burst out from the ditch, swooped across my windshield, and flew away. Then traffic stopped completely as a rafter of Wild Turkeys meandered across the thoroughfare.

At night, Red Fox trotted along Ayd Mill Road, where heart-faced Opossum smiled from the curb. A lingering aroma evidenced I had just missed an encounter with Skunk. And Saw-Whet Owl stared down from his stoplight roost on Maryland Avenue.

As I walked the river at Crosby Farm, Bald Eagle devoured a fish on the beach only a hundred feet ahead, while Barred Owl slept in a giant Cottonwood high above.

I rescued Painted Turtle off Robert Street and went looking for his perfect new home. As we approached Como Lake, Turtle clawed the air and stretched far out of his shell, urging me to hurry. Released, he moved as fast as he could to get away into the water. Then something beautiful happened: Turtle turned around, floated, and looked at me for several moments. It felt like a “Thank You” before he slowly turned and disappeared into the deep. Great Blue Heron glided overhead to land on a boulder at the edge of the bay. Woodchuck munched grass along Lexington Parkway.

In Como Zoo, Peacock and Lunar Moth maneuvered together. Moth fluttered down close to Peacock, then up out of range. Peacock reached for Moth, and withdrew. Rhythmically, they danced and danced. Then, lightning fast, Peacock snapped its neck and swallowed Moth whole.

The garden is a wonderful place to interact with wildlife. Gold-finches eat Swiss chard, and drink from puddles captured in the bumpy leaves after a rain. Rabbit sleeps in the hedge all day before emerging at dusk to nibble leafy greens. Garter Snake awaits prey in the Strawberry patch. Hummingbird arrives at the same time each day to extract fresh nectar from blossoms. And, Bald Faced Hornet responds to Love: even though more aggressive than African Bees, he did not hurt me as I admired him up close and personal on a Sunflower.

As I rode the Metro 21A along Selby Avenue, Dragonfly hitched a ride on my hand. I enjoyed his iridescent companionship all the way to my bus stop.
In June, Warbler filled my yard with honey-sweet song while attracting a mate. By July, I’d renamed him “Rattlesnake Bird,” as song turned to scold when anyone came within ten feet of their nest.

Passing through my back yard, Pileated Woodpecker stopped to drum for lunch in the dead tree stripped bare by Squirrel; moving mostly upside down, tagalong Nuthatch followed close behind.

Last winter, Crows squawked relentlessly until I brushed fresh snow off the body of their dead relative, then perched around me in silence for a long while. They took more than two weeks to grieve.

One of my favorite wildlife encounters in Saint Paul happens only during warm months. As I brush my teeth before bed each summer evening, peering out the open upstairs window overlooking the garden, I see a pair of Bats buzz the screen, as if to say, “Hello!”

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