Jim Siergey: Back Yard Shenanigans

June 11th, 2019

Looking out into my back yard I espied two little wrens sitting on the wooden fence, a few slats apart from one another. One tweeted and sang to the other for a bit before flying off toward a tree. The other turned and winged its way into the bird house where they’ve made a home.

It is the same bird house that was in my back yard in Chicago where sparrows made nests and resided within. It’s a multi-cultural domicile.

Sparrows have laid claim to a different bird house in the yard. A pair of robins have laid claim to my entire back yard.

Besides the fact that they are rather territorial birds and chase off other robins and same-sized birds from hunting in their yard, they now do so because they have a nest in the bush by my back door.

I like to occasionally sit in a chair on the back porch next to that bush.  Robins don’t always like someone near their nest. I knew someone who could no longer use their front door because there was a robin’s nest in the awning above it. Fortunately these robins don’t mind me sitting close by.

Apparently I don’t pose a threat to anyone anymore.

Birdhouse 1

A home of their own…


There are a pair of squirrels who also claim the back yard. Sometimes they invite friends over to romp and dig in the grass. The other morning I heard a thud against the sliding glass door that looks onto the back yard. I expected to find a bird, hopefully only dazed from flying into the glass, but I was mistaken.

It was a squirrel with its paws and nose pressed against the glass, having a looksee inside. Perhaps he was casing the joint.

I hope there’s not a gang of raccoons to which he reports back.  If I wake up and find my refrigerator raided and my coin collection gone, I will know that he has.

As you can see, there is some faunal as well as floral activity going on in my back yard.

One day my wife and I espied a strange creature moving along the plants growing next to the fence. We could only see traces of its body but enough to realize that it was large. At first we thought it might be a raccoon (my assumption about the squirrel was right!) or possibly a possum but when we caught a side view glimpse of its face, we knew it was neither raccoon nor possum.

A beaver? Could it be a beaver? There is a creek near by and we have had an awful lot of rain lately but a beaver in our yard? Unlike James Thurber and the unicorn in his garden, I did not have to convince my wife of what I had seen as she could attest to the fact that there was a creature there that, despite logic and sensibility, just might be a beaver.

Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and we realized that it was more likely to be a ground hog. The fact that we saw one of the fence slats move as it crawled beneath it out of our yard confirmed it.

I had never seen a ground hog before. They are rather large and hefty creatures. I hope to never see one again, at least not in our yard. I wonder how much ground it would grind?

Or if he even would, Chuck.


Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Breakfast & Me

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