Saturday, 21 March 2020

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Another Spring is here along with yet another attempt to rent the bird house on the old Manitoba Maple tree. Many years ago, I built two oversized boxes in the hope that Eastern Screech owls would nest in them. No dice! Each winter the owls do use them for roosting and as a larder but they are not satisfied with the location for raising a family. Too public, perhaps? 

Anyway, White-Breasted Nuthatches always show a keen interest in one box in particular. Unfortunately, every year they are out-competed by squirrels and/or European Starlings. This Spring I decided to lend the nuthatches a hand by customizing the box just for them. I made a new front with a smaller box to fit inside the larger box. All of the books and websites I consulted said that the entrance hole should be 1 1/4 inches wide for White-Breasted Nuthatches. So I drilled to this measurement and attached a squirrel proof metal guard, which was also 1 1/4 inches wide.

Custom built for my White-Breasted Nuthatch friends.

Up the fourteen foot ladder and installation completed.

The metal guard means "Squirrels Need Not Apply".

The small opening means "Starlings Need Not Apply".

The faux-bark is a bit cheesy, but the interior is brand new! Do have a look!

Days went by and I only saw one nuthatch, after much struggle, enter the refurbished box. Shortly after, it struggled equally hard to exit. I took a video of another nuthatch trying and failing to enter. Obviously, my resident 'McNutties' are too large for that diameter.

The following video clearly shows that the recommended entrance size is just too small!

So, up the ladder again, and down with the box for alteration. I enlarged the hole a little and added a 1 1/2 inch center metal guard. I also removed the perch. Bingo! The McNutties love it! I expect they will be moving their furniture (bits of bark) in soon.

Enlarged the entrance to 1 3/8 inch diameter. The guard's center is 1 1/2 inch wide.

A prospective tenant checks the alteration.

Hm-m-m, it does seems roomier!

A flash of chestnut coloured nickers shows he's fitting in.

After a few minutes of inspecting the interior, he emerges.

"I love it! Of course, the missus will have the final say."

Friday, 6 March 2020

Hospitality Withdrawn!!

Surprise was in store a couple of mornings ago when I stepped out of the back porch. This enclosed little room is attached to the house and part of the garage. Pink insulation was all over the steps. I keep my birdseed in a metal bin within the porch. Besides leaving stinky heaps of raccoon poo on the porch roof, the little bandit had also tried to rip it's way into the porch. Enough already!!

I don't want the expense or inconvenience of having a big roll-up garage door installed just to keep the raccoons out. So I'm trying another method. I've heard that raccoons don't like noise nor the smell of household ammonia. Before dark each evening, I turn on a radio in the garage and let it play all night long. The station tuned to is entirely talk shows. I also draw a rope across the garage entrance on which two pieces of ammonia-drenched rags hang. 

So far, the deterrents seem to be working. On yesterday's hike to our bush lot, raccoon tracks led away from the house, back the lane and into the woods. Yay-y-y!! Of course, I've removed all raccoon-accessible bird feeders as well.

A raccoon had shredded the pink insulation on the back porch's roof.

I hope the radio and the ammonia soaked rags deter raccoons from the garage.

Raccoon tracks heading for our bush lot.

Floods Up! The Dalgleish drain emptying into the Allan drain.

My Eastern Screech Owl awaits his evening hunt.

Did a rival tom cat connect with your nose, Romeo?

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The grocery store in the village of Osgoode was out of portobello mushrooms so I paid a visit to local grower, Carleton Mushroom Farms. I asked for a flat of portobellos and a worker harvested them while I waited. As soon as I got home, I sliced and cooked them all. I had a feast, then wrapped and froze single portions for later. That was my first but definitely not my last visit to that source!

Nineteen freshly picked portobello mushrooms. Yummers!

Also, I made a batch of Banana Walnut Ice Cream. Completely plant-based and absolutely delicious.