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Goings on at the Cabin

A few friends for the Summer
by Dan Hartman

Aug. 3, 2018

     Most of my Summer has been spent either in the Beartooths or the foothills of the Beartooths.  But, when I have been at the cabin four characters emerged as regulars in our yard.

     First, of the six or so pine martens that spent the winter with us, one young male has hung around for the summer.  We normally only see him at dawn.  Usually he runs back and fourth across our roof to get our attention, then waits for us on our front porch.

     Years ago, a western tanager adopted our cabin.  All summer he would come to our porch for bread.  When Autumn came he left as all tanagers should, then to our delight, he returned the next summer.  It broke our hearts when we found him lying on the highway one late summer day.  Years went by.  Tanagers would come and go, but none would come down out of the trees.

     Well, this summer a young male tanager was chirpping from a high branch in our yard.  I tossed a piece of cookie out on the porch and to my delight he dropped down and began picking it apart.

     Hey, maybe we've got another friend.

     When he finished, I tossed out some bread crumbs.  To my surprise, he picked up the bread and promptly threw it back down.  He then began chirpping.  Loudly.

     I found a cookie and stepped out.  As I broke it up into small pieces he landed at my feet and began feeding.  A few days later, he brought in a female and the two of them became daily visitors.  If they come in and find no cookies, they chirp until we comply.

     We always have hummingbirds at our litle feeder, but this year a tiny Calliope has become fearless.  At times it will perch just feet from us.

     Almost every evening, usually around six, a male fox passes through our yard on his way back to his family.  Quite often, he's carrying a mouthful of prey.  Other times he pauses to hunt in front of our cabin, catching a vole or a chipmunk now and then.

     Sometime this month we'll say goodby to the tanagers and hummingbirds, hoping they'll return again next summer.  The marten and fox will stay through the fall and winter, as long as nothing happens to them.

     P.S.  One of our winter hairy woodpeckers came in the other day with a youngster in tow.  She was finding insects in our trees while the male chick waited on one of our snags.  Every so often she would bring in a beakfull and feed him as he squealed and flapped his wing.  Then to our astonishment, he crawled into a cavity and waited to be fed just like he'd done before fledging.

     It made us laugh as it seemed such a natural thing for him to do.


View slide show

Mousing Fox

Got It !!!

Western Tanager

Our Marten

Waiting For Food In His Fake Nest

Food !!!