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One of three opossums, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg
One of three opossums warning me to stay away, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg
Alert opossum under bird feeder, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg
Alert opossum under bird feeder, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg
Opossum among the fallen sunflower seeds, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg
Opossum among the fallen sunflower seeds, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Strange looking, unique in North America, harmless, mistaken as a rodent, its name often used to describe playing dead.

Unless you are visiting a zoo, this is the only marsupial you can see in North America. Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a common visitor, along with raccoon, to the neighborhood garbage cans. We may have more than an ordinary number of visitors due to our adjacent forest preserve. Late in the afternoon, three young ones were enjoying the spilled sunflower seeds under our birdfeeder. Note to self: Read birdseed labels more careful when purchasing. I thought I bought a bag of mixed seeds but ended up with a bag of sunflower seeds. Until our next order arrives, the sparrows have to do more work in order to get nourishment. In the meantime, the spillage from the feeder is great; much seed is on the ground for other wildlife nourishment.

Fattening up for winter is routine for many Midwestern animals. Sunflowers, with a high fat content, are an appropriate food for this purpose. Most birds need a more balanced diet including sunflowers as only part of their food intake.

For more information the opossum, check out this site: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/directory_show.cfm?species=opossum

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