Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
The season being short on birds, much of my attention has been focused on the four Muskrats working hard to prepare themselves for winter as residents in our backyard pond. I worry about them because the pond is shrinking. It won't be long before swimming out there will be a challenge. Then it is likely the pond will freeze to its bottom. One lodge and two burrows are known to exist. It appeared Sunday that the beginnings of a second lodge were being made. The animals allow me to sit in a lawn chair in waist-high grass at pond's edge to photograph them from 8 to 40 feet. This is an opportunity I'd never find in the marshy wetlands these animals prefer. Strange as it might seem, I've been supplementing their food. The roots and tubers and water plants that are a large part of their usual diet are in short supply here. The animals show little inclination to forage more than 10 or 12 feet from water's edge. That severly limits them. So, I've been giving them cheap juicer carrots. My impression is that they love them. Eyesight seems to be weak in Muskrats. They wander around not a foot from the carrots, moving in for the kill when scent seems to make the difference. Muskets move with deliberation when on the hunt. Once a carrot is firmly in their teeth, however, they actually gallop across the mud to their den entrances. So far, 15 pounds of carrots have been stashed. I hope to follow the animals into and through the winter, assuming that they make it. The fatty below rounded itself off by eating duck weed non-stop.
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