The woods behind my house lead down to a large pond, surrounded by more woods. We get lots of animals hanging out on the property: tons of birds, deer, raccoon, snakes, frogs, toads, squirrels, fishers, and the occasional fox and coyote passing through. I haven’t seen any bears, although something’s been out there recently that has the dogs reluctant to stay out in the yard for too long.
I feed the birds year-round. I hang a feeder outside the sliding glass door to the deck, and also toss seed on the deck floor for the ground feeders. The squirrels have a feeder party every morning, and lately there’s been a raccoon hanging out on the deck at night.
I first found out about the raccoon several nights ago, courtesy of Seelie, just as I was falling asleep. The raccoon-presence-announcement went something like this: grr-rrr-rrr… bark! Bark! GRR – BARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!
Needless to say, this was not particularly conducive to a good night’s sleep, especially not with a 5 a.m. wake up call. After several more such heads-up moments, I decided I needed to introduce Seelie to the raccoon. This meant going into the kitchen and turning on the outside light on the deck, where we could see the raccoon standing on her hind legs, just able to grasp the bird feeder and pull it close enough for her to get at the seeds. She may be the same raccoon who used to visit last year, since she was not at all bothered by the light or our presence.
Seelie stood next to me, growling, so I decided to start talking. I talked to the raccoon (I did not open the door!), and included Seelie in the conversation. Seelie stayed quiet, but kept looking from the raccoon to me and back, clearly thinking something was very, very wrong with me. I told Seelie the raccoon should have a name, and for some reason ‘Chloe’ popped into my head. I used to know a dog named Chloe, a little Panda-clone my friends adopted from North Shore Animal League. I’d gone along with them for the ride. Chloe had such big feet as a tiny puppy, we were sure she was a Chesapeake Bay retriever mix. She maxed out somewhere around twenty-five pounds.
Seelie’s been much quieter about the nightly visitor since Chloe got her name. The raccoon seems very comfortable hanging out with us; the other night Seelie was growling a bit, so I checked the deck and saw that Chloe was curled up in one corner, looking very relaxed. I don’t really want her to move in, so I got a flashlight, opened the sliding glass door slightly, and shined the light on her face, talking to her. Her reaction was to stare at me for a moment, then heave a huge sigh and settle back down, looking just like one of the dogs.
Now I bring the bird feeder in at night.