Monday Musings — Spring Wildlife, Babies, and What To Do If You Find One!

Happy Spring and Baby Wildlife Season!

It finally seems the warmer weather is here to stay after more than a few false starts this year. Reaching 91 one day and then freezing the next. What’s up with that? For a while, it seemed as though Mother Nature herself had contracted the COVID-19 virus and wasn’t quite herself in how the weather bounced up and down for weeks on end early on. One of the strangest Spring seasons I recall in quite a while. But then again, this whole year of 2020 has been something to behold so far, hasn’t it?

I would not want to be in the shoes of whoever Mother Nature ultimately tracks down thru contact tracing as to who gave her the virus, if that is the case. How many remember the old adage — “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature?”

Personally, I have been looking forward to the arrival of Spring since the last Christmas present wrapping hit the floor. And I am not alone. Mother Nature’s critters, huddled in winter dens, have all been awaiting the first warming rays of sunshine, too.

So, let’s talk about Wildlife. The four-legged, feathered, and furry sort mostly, and save Las Vegas, Party Barges, and Weekend Bingo Binges for another discussion and time.

Where I live, we have had a Skunk lurking around the trash cans and smoking area in the rear of the buildings for a while. A Possum, too. It crossed in front of me walking the dog a few weeks ago. Mid-morning, no rush at all crossing the street as if it owned the crosswalk. And it has been sighted again around the area more recently.

Given the old-growth trees around the neighborhood, I would expect to see Raccoons and hear some Owls anytime, as well. I stop and listen when out at night trying to hear or see one. No luck so far, but I have seen bats zipping around overhead from time to time.

And we have countless Squirrels scampering about gathering acorns and other food treats. And a very special little tailless squirrel. It lives nearabout the twin fir trees at the end in the side yard area.  I saw him on two occasions last fall scurrying along the curbside of the rear parking lot.

I first became aware of the presence of the tailless squirrel after noticing a scribbled “Reward Note” posted on a Sweetgum tree out front –

“25 Acorns Reward For Information Leading To The Whereabouts And Speedy  Recovery Of My Missing Tail.”

The note was signed by “Stubby the Grey Squirrel”.

Assuming the tailless little guy is still anywhere around to be seen now, of course. Being somewhat of an oddity, he may have run off already to join the circus, hit the talk show circuit, or to pursue a movie career with the Muppets in Hollywood. What some see as misfortune, others see as a blessing and opportunity! It just depends on your mindset, I suppose.

As I have advised my friends here in the seniors’ community, there is no reason to be alarmed by any of the little neighborhood critters because they generally do not want to have anything to do with you. But please do not rush out to change your deodorant or take that personally. It is not about “You”.

By nature, wildlife does not want to have anything to do with any other human, either. It’s a survival thing. It seems humans have unfortunately established themselves as a threat in the eyes of most wildlife. Accordingly, practicing the original form of social distancing,  they will avoid you at all costs if they can, just as we are the COVID-19 virus at present.

The best thing whenever you see any of Mother Nature’s friends is to simply ignore them and go about your business while they go about there’s. Or simply turn around and go back the way you came. Chances are that once the little guys see you, they will be hightailing it out of there to the safety of a nearby tree or hidey-hole, anyway. Again, they really do not want to have anything to do with you. Trust me, you are not on the menu or in any of our local critters’ food groups, so you can feel pretty safe about that.

The odds of you being chased down and eaten by a chipmunk in the backyard are pretty slim. Actually, the first, last, and only recorded chipmunk attack on a human being was when an exasperated Alvin the Chipmunk allegedly attacked a record producer for not giving him a hula hoop at Christmas. And there are some doubts as to the neutrality and impartiality of the witnesses, Simon and Theodore. In the end, Mr. Seville was not actually eaten and consumed by Alvin anyway, merely bashed and battered around a bit by the disgruntled chipmunk crooner. Just do not promise a hula hoop and then fail to deliver on it, and you should be fine. Chipmunks and other small critters do not eat people. Really, I’ve studied this stuff.

Except, possibly for coyotes. But probably not them, either. Coyotes do not typically attack humans, but as they increasingly spread into urban areas, pets may be at risk. Coyotes may view large dogs as rivals and seek to eliminate them and see small dogs and cats as prey (i.e. lunch snacks). I have neither seen nor am I aware of any coyotes in our neighborhood here, but putting the word out anyway for our dog walker friends to be aware going forward and to keep little Spot and Fido safe, because that is not to say they may not be in your neighborhood. As well as bears, wolves, and mountain lions depending on where you may live.  So while not purposefully ignoring those larger guys today, we are mostly just talking about the smaller, everyday, urban critters we encounter more frequently in our neighborhoods.

Otherwise, it is springtime, and springtime in the animal community means “Babies” and the beginning of Baby Wildlife Season.

Wildlife babies of all varieties are either emerging from nests and dens about now or very soon will be. Lots of them. And we all know that a Mother will always stand her ground to protect her Babies.

In the event you happen across a Mother and Babies, the best thing to do is to give them plenty of space no matter how cute they seem, and by all means, do not appear threatening to them. It is best to just calmly and quietly leave the area.

Mother and Babies will move along soon enough so that you can get back to whatever you may have been doing, and everyone can go safely on about their business.

But what to do (or not do) if you come across a wildlife baby and there is no mother around?  It depends.  The best advice from the National Wildlife Federation is to simply leave it alone.

For most of us, our first instinct may be to “rescue” it. But before intervening and quite possibly interfering, we really need to make sure that the baby truly needs our assistance in the first place. In many instances, it is totally normal for wildlife babies to be on their own.  Mother deer and rabbits leave their young alone for most of the day to avoid attracting predators, for example.

If a baby bird is fully feathered, it is called a “fledgling” and it is normal for it to be out of the nest. Fledglings spend several days on the ground hiding in the vegetation until they can fully fly. It is a dangerous time for them to be sure, but the mother bird is usually close by keeping a watchful eye. If you get too close or interfere, you may get divebombed by one or both parents.

On the other hand, if a baby bird is featherless or covered in fluffy down, it is called a “nestling” and should be returned to the nest if possible. Contrary to popular belief, touching a nestling or baby animal will NOT make the parents reject it.

Regarding reptiles – baby snakes, turtles, and lizards hatch from eggs (or are born live in the case of some snakes) and are completely equipped to care for themselves right from the get-go. Simply leave them right where they are and they will be fine without any help.

So again, before intervening in the “rescue” of any wildlife baby, make sure it actually needs help, to begin with. Again, in many situations, it is totally normal for wildlife babies to be on their own. “Rescuing” an animal that does not need rescuing actually decreases its chance of survival, and of course that is the last thing we want.

Though it might seem harsh, the fact of the matter is that it is normal and natural for wildlife babies to be on their own and that in the grand scheme of things, not all wild animals survive to adulthood. A wildlife baby sadly may not make it, but in many instances may end up being the food that allows other wildlife babies to survive. That is the natural way of things. Stepping away and letting nature take its course is usually the best thing to do.

The exception to all this is if an animal is injured as a direct result of human activity –  getting hit by a car, attacked by a pet, striking a window, falling from a nest during tree work, or if you have witnessed its parent being killed and know without a doubt that the baby has been orphaned.

At those times, the ethical thing is trying to help, but not necessarily by intervening directly. Contacting a local wildlife rehabilitator or wildlife rescue group should be our first step to provide help because they are trained, properly equipped, and know what to do to provide the best treatment, care, and chances for the animal’s recovery and survival.

And a word about Snakes. Snakes are beneficial because they prey on and keep down the number of real pests and possible disease carriers – Mice and Rats – the most common urban animals whether we like to admit it or not. Yes, mice and rats are likely in the backyard and around the trash cans and dumpsters, too. Snakes help keep mice and rats under control. That is a good thing.

The scary thing would be if there were no snakes at all. For example, snakes play a major role in controlling the spread of Lyme Disease by preying on the mice and rats who play host to the ticks that spread the disease. If snakes all disappeared, Lyme Disease would rapidly become much more prevalent and more widespread. And that is merely one example of the importance of snakes.

With the rising temperatures, you may see a snake basking and warming itself in the sunshine. Again, not to panic. If you see or unwittingly disturb a snake – simply move away quietly and let it be. Snakes, like all critters, do not consider humans a food source so have no reason to bother you unless you give it one and they feel cornered or threatened with the need to defend themselves. They merely go about doing their jobs as Mother Nature and God intended.

But, a necessary word of caution. Being reptiles, with warmer weather upon us snakes will be more active, and it must be said that a few are venomous. Again, they do not want to eat you and should not bother you unless you provoke or give them a reason to. Or, startle them and catch them by surprise.

So when working in the garden or out and about, it is best to be aware and alert to their possible presence.

Snakes and all of the other wildlife have every much of a right to be here as we do. Maybe more. They were here first, after all.

“Live and Let Live” is the best policy for snakes and all wildlife.

So, as you are out and about enjoying the beautiful Spring and Summer weather to come, please be aware of the miracles and wonders of nature surrounding you where you live. Simply stop, listen, and be aware of the moment.

And, please do not leave food out for or feed local wildlife. They have a natural role to play in nature and must be allowed to do that. Foods that we leave out or unsecured garbage in trash cans is not their natural food or healthy, and it frequently ends badly for the animals as they suddenly become classified as “pests” to be eliminated.

It is best for all not to do it. Wildlife will do much better on its own being allowed to simply function as Mother Nature intended.

Possums, Raccoons, Skunks, Groundhogs, Squirrels, Chipmunks, Rabbits, Snakes, Turtles, Moles, and Deer (and Mice and Rats, too), not to mention the wondrous varieties of birds, all call our neighborhoods home and raise their families right alongside us. They are out there. And if we are mindful, we can enjoy all of the local wildlife and live together in Peace. I encourage you to venture outdoors, take a walk, and breathe the fresh air. Take a  break from the daily news and avail yourself of the beautiful World and  Wildlife surrounding us.

If you would like to learn more about what to do if you do find baby wildlife, please visit The National Wildlife Federation for more information, specific to each species.

When outdoors, please keep your eyes and ears open and listen for your local wildlife neighbors because they are all around you whether you see them or not!

And for Bigfoot. Always Bigfoots. Because like UFO’s and ghosts, we never really quite know for certain, do we?

Please remember that wearing a mask when in public right now is not solely about protecting ourselves, but moreover a showing of respect and concern for those around us, a way of protecting them.  And that is a very simple and kind thing we all can surely do for each other.

Because we truly are all in this together.

Thanks for visiting with us today! Best wishes and health! — Jim  (and Red!)

PS — As a friendly reminder, Little Red Bear and I have changed some Amazon marketing structures and eliminated all royalties on his “Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories to make them as affordable as possible for leisurely and relaxing reading during this time for everyone. They are always Free with Kindle Unlimited. 

And if you have already read and enjoyed Red’s adventures, we would sincerely appreciate if you could take a minute to leave a review to help others find their way to the books.

Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.” –  Steve Irwin

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.  And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – 14th Dalai Lama

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

“A simple act of kindness and compassion towards a single animal may not mean anything to all creatures, but will mean everything to one.” –  Paul Oxton


Happy Spring! — On Singing Birds, Baby Rabbits, and Our New Video “Springtime in Little Red Bear Land!”

Happy Spring!  Long awaited, Spring seems to have finally arrived here in the Central Midwest, while other areas to the north are still being buffeted by Winter-like storms.  Two days in the past week reached 80F degrees and doggone it the calendar says April 15th, so with all due respect to Jack Frost and Ol’ Man Winter, Little Red Bear and I are firmly declaring “Welcome Spring!”

As I write this, the windows are open and two Cardinals are singing lustily back and forth in the front of my home, while a House Finch sings for his enchanted in the back. An untold number of English Sparrows are embroiled in loud and urgent arguments over prime nesting spots behind outdoor lamp fixtures around the building.

Robins have been hopping along on the grass for a few weeks now, and I was blessed to see the arrival of a pair of Goldfinches yesterday morning, the first seen this year. The House Wrens have yet to arrive in my neighborhood, but they are usually among the last to arrive, along with the Hummingbirds.

Birds are dashing here and there hurriedly weaving and constructing new nests, while bear cubs, fox kits, and other babies are emerging from dens. A good time to remind to please be careful when driving or out and about with activities, to please be watchful for Mother Nature’s sometimes clumsy and careless new youngsters scurrying about, and to be mindful of spring families and nesting sites, including nesting shorebirds if visiting the beaches.

Because — Spring has arrived!

Little Red Bear has been hard at work on a new video celebrating “Springtime in Little Red Bear Land” and decided it was time to share it with everyone. As the Director of our videos, Little Red Bear has added a new wrinkle to this one, incorporating mini videos within the primary video.  Please let us know if you like our new mini “videos-in-a-video” approach because Red’s always trying new things to make them better and more entertaining for everyone.

Very special “Thank You’s!” to our dear photographer friends Adele Barger Wilson, Marilyn Schroeder, Matt and Delia of M&D Hills Photography, and Sallie J. Woodring Photography for the generous use of their images to create this video, along with images and video inserts from Pixabay.

Our hope is that even though some areas may still be held in Winter’s icy grip, Little Red Bear’s video will help bring warming thoughts of Spring to arrive soon.

We hope you enjoy Little Red Bear’s new video, and if so would truly appreciate a “Thumbs-Up” on YouTube to help other people find their way to it. Likes, Comments, and Shares are always appreciated! Happy Springtime!

When Spring arrives in your backyard — Open the windows! Listen to the songbirds! Watch the baby animals bouncing around! Walk barefoot in the new green grass! Plant a garden with some flowers for the bees and pollinators! Get dirty! Jump in a rain puddle! Take a hike and enjoy all of Mother Nature’s Springtime blessings!

If you have Dandelions popping up here and there in your yard this Spring, please check out “Please Don’t Pull The Dandelions — They’re Nature’s Gift!” before cranking up the lawn mower or reaching for the weed puller.

Jeffrey and Jolene are a pair of cottontail rabbits who live with their family beneath Red’s cabin in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, invited there along with others by Little Red Bear for protection against marauding packs of weasels. But not all rabbit families are so lucky to have a caring and helpful bear in the neighborhood. So, while pushing or riding the lawn mower this Spring, please be watchful to navigate around rabbit nests with babies in your yard.

A quick walk around the yard while picking up winter twigs and debris before mowing, searching for depressions in the ground and grass, can reveal any nests to be easily avoided later when mowing. Be on the lookout for fluffy tufts of the mother rabbit’s fur or for what otherwise may appear to be simply brown patches of dead grass. There may be a nest beneath, and a quick inspection will reveal it.

If you find one, simply leave a six-foot circle of unmowed grass around the nest, and then keep children and pets away for a few weeks. For more information and a quick little video, check out How To Spot A Rabbit Nest Before Mowing Your Lawn from Ontario Wildlife Removal, Inc. The mother rabbit rarely visits the nest during daylight hours (to avoid tipping off the nest’s location to predators), so not seeing any rabbits in your yard is not an indication that there are no nests. Please take a few minutes to simply walk around your yard before mowing to avoid any tragedies.

The baby rabbits only stay in a nest for about three weeks, so while leaving a circle of uncut grass around a nest for a few weeks is not really a big deal for us, it can be a lifesaver for baby rabbits!

If you would like to check out more of our videos, please visit Little Red Bear’s Homespun Videos page to see all that Red has produced to date.

Thanks always for visiting and spending part of your day with us!  Wishing you and your family a very Happy Spring! — Jim (and Red!)

“In spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” –  Margaret Atwood

“To pick a flower is so much more satisfying than just observing it, or photographing it . . .                        So, in later years, I have grown in my garden as many flowers as possible                       for children to pick.” – Anne Scott-James 

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“In springtime, love is carried on the breeze. Watch out for flying passion and kisses whizzing by your head.” –  Emma Racine Defleur

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.

Because together we can do so much!

” Spring is nature’s way of saying — ‘Let’s party!’ ” –  Robin Williams


For Daffodils — Cheerful Little Trumpets of Spring!

It has been a prolonged and challenging struggle towards Spring here in this section of the Midwest, with late accumulating snows and unseasonably cold temperatures. Emerging daffodils standing knee-deep in snow, bent over, and huddled for warmth.

Yet, despite it all, the little daffodils in front of my home have stubbornly persisted to send forth their bright and cheerful yellow flowers once again, heralding the pending and long-awaited arrival of Spring.

Here then, for National Poetry Month and our Daffodils, the “Cheerful Little Trumpets of Spring” . . . .

Our cheery little daffodil,

There — blooming on the hill.

Stoutly braving both snow and chill,

Providing us all an early thrill.

Stout-hearted little daffodil,

My heart with Spring’s warmth, you fill.

Brightly courageous little daffodil,

Serene and peaceful, never shrill.

Oh! Our spunky and brave little daffodil,

In shadows and gloom, you inspire me still.

Thank You always for visiting and spending part of your day with us. We each can make a positive difference in the world. Choose to be courageous — to be a cheery, hopeful daffodil in someone’s chilly winter’s day. — Jim  (and Red!)

“Daffodils are yellow trumpets of spring.” — Richard L. Ratliff

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes. Because together we can do so much!

“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head.
And whispered to her neighbor — ‘Winter is dead.’ ” — A. A. Milne 

“The Legend of the Dogwood”

A weekend, early Spring drive to attend one of my sons’ weddings in Orlando, Florida could not have been more perfectly timed.

Driving south from Missouri thru the scenic mountain country of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, and back again, revealed beautiful dogwood trees with white and pink flower blossoms on full display in otherwise open woodlands, with the much larger and later emerging hardwoods still bare of leaves to hide them from view. Driving thru the same locations a week earlier or later, and it may well have been a different scene, missing out on the blooming display.

Walking thru the Ozarks woodlands in early springtime with a bit of chill in the air, one of my favorite sights has always been witnessing the annual blooming of the Dogwood Trees in gentle displays of pink and white, scattered over the hillsides.

Along with early arriving songbirds back from winter migrations, the dogwoods each year signal the arrival of spring, with its promise of beauty, hope, and new beginnings.

Being smaller and a spindlier understory tree, the dogwood is one of the very first trees to bloom in warming rays of the early spring sun, before other much larger oak and hardwood tree neighbors have fully leafed out and cover it over in preferred shade like an umbrella, shielding dogwoods then from the blazing sunlight and heat for the remainder of the summer season.

There is a legend told of the Dogwood Tree, perhaps one of the oldest legends of the Christian era, that in the time of Jesus of Nazareth and the crucifixion, the dogwood was the size of mighty oak trees, so strong and firm that it was chosen as the timber for Jesus’ cross.

This story is not to be found in the Bible and the author is unknown, yet generations have told and retold The Legend of the Dogwood so that it has persisted thru time.

If not factual, in the least it is interesting that the story of the dogwood has meant so much to so many through the ages, that generations of repetition have served to keep the story and legend alive to this day.

According to legend, to be used for such a purpose as the crucifixion greatly distressed the tree. Nailed upon it, in His compassion Jesus sensed the sadness, sorrow, and suffering of the tree, and in His mercy assured that it would never be used for such purpose again.

Dense and fine-grained, dogwood timber has been highly prized over the years for small projects, fashioning the wood into such purposeful items as loom shuttles, tool handles, canes, mountain dulcimers, and more. Peeling off the bark and biting the twigs, early pioneers would use dogwoods to scrub and brush their teeth. But the dogwood tree was never again to grow large enough to be used for purposes as it had been that day as a cross for crucifixion, according to the legend.

Even now as a testament to the day, the petals of the Dogwood Tree grow in the shape of a cross, with each petal bearing the reddish stains of blood and a rusty nail, with the crown of thorns in the center, following the legend.

— “The Legend of the Dogwood” —

“And Jesus said . . . . . . . . . 

“Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross . . . .

“Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross . . . two long and two short petals . . . .

“And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns . . . .

“. . . . and all who see it will remember.”

Springtime is always a special time here with so much to be thankful for. Winter snows, grey skies, and cold traded for warming days and sunshine.

Morning strolls and the return of beautiful songbirds to the area once again. Perky little daffodils emerging with bright bursts of yellow. And the gentle and peaceful flowering dogwoods in pinks and whites on the hillsides.

Happy Spring and thanks as always for visiting and spending part of your day with us here!

The Dogwood Tree and its blossoms are a beautiful symbol and annual reminder not only of nature’s gentle beauty, but also with the legend’s story and lessons of Mercy, Forgiveness, Compassion, Love, and Peace for us all to take to heart and share.

Will you visit with Mother Nature today?   – Jim (and Red!)

  “Sometimes Mother Nature has the answers when you do not even know the questions.”   – Keith Wynn

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” – Rachel Carson

Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.” – Juvenal

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” – George Washington Carver