The buck stops here…

I try to avoid clichés and puns in my posts. Nevertheless, guess I am just in a silly mood today. We have two bucks visiting our yard to dine on the Yews and Hostas and Lilies. This one is the larger and older of the two. Always a joy to watch.

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Buck visiting our garden from neighboring Forest Preserve. Copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Bitter fruit…

Barberry berries hanging on throughout winter's storms, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Barberry berries hanging on throughout winter’s storms, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Uneaten fruits, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Uneaten fruits, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) berries always take me by surprise when I spot their appearance in my otherwise barren winter garden. At times like our recent 19 inches of fresh snow, I expect our wintering, non-hibernating wildlife to be eating remaining food sources. The deer are frequent visitors to our yew shrub; no need for spring trimming by our hands. Yet, the bright red, attention grabbing berries of the Barberry bush remain abundantly intact on the branches. It turns out that their bitter taste; along with the thorny branches repel even the hungriest wild appetites. Us, humans, however have been known to eat them and use them medicinally.

Deer enjoying our Yew, copyright 2015 Steven Breitberg

Deer enjoying our Yew, copyright 2015 Steven Breitberg

Growing up…

Growing up...

This brother, along with his sister have regularly visited our garden for their early evening treat; my perennials. My treat is that I have been allowed to watch them slowly mature into handsome and lovely neighbors. copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Silent shadows…

Blankets of January snow in Chicago, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Blankets of January snow in Chicago, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Records have not yet been broken. Two more inches of fresh powdery snow fell overnight. Our 32.5 inches of snow this January is only the third snowiest for Chicago.

This image was taken yesterday afternoon, while the winds were still and the temperatures a balmy eleven degrees. The topmost blanket, about six inches, is undisturbed. Our deer neighbors are hopefully warm wherever they have bedded down. Their last appearance was over ten days ago when two groups encountered, one pair and one trio, and playfully frolicked through our snow covered lawn. In the interim, all is still, as silent shadows lay weightless on the snow.

Dear deer candy…

Snow packed Yews copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Snow packed Yews copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Last night’s fresh layer of snow formed a condensed blanket on these Yews as the sun’s heat competed with the airs 14-degree temperature this afternoon.

Blanketed Yew copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Blanketed Yew copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Yews (Taxus) is the food of choice, sweet treat, when the deer cross border from the forest preserve into our garden. As the snow covers any remaining plant life, on the forest floor, it becomes more and more common place to have morning and afternoon visits with our neighbors. The result is tidy shrubs and contented deer.

Evening image of deer feasting on Yews, winter of 2012;  copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

Evening image of deer feasting on Yews, winter of 2012; copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

For information on the preferred diet of deer, check out http://njaes.rutgers.edu/deerresistance/.

Tender love gently received…

Camouflaged love copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Camouflaged love copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Can you tell which one is asking for love….. forgiveness? She had just returned from the prairie, passing me on her way. Can’t help but think the late morning wakeful presence was because of their young age; it was almost noon when this encounter happened.  They were the only deer I spied at this late hour, when I otherwise would see quite a few if passing by just after sunrise.

White Tail Deer copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

White Tail Deer copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

White tailed deer peck on cheek copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

White tailed deer peck on cheek copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

urban wildlife…

One of two prairie patches in this area of Cook County Forest Preserve, Miami Woods. I’ve seen deer along the bike (and jogger and walker) trail, but never so close to the trail in the prairie area. Yes, they are fairly comfortable with humans passing by; but never tame.  I still feel lucky after 27 years of observations when they allow me to watch for a while.

Urban deer copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Urban deer copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Appearances aren't what they seem; copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Appearances aren’t what they seem; copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Who spoiled the pristine scene…

Brilliant white snowflakes lie at rest from their fall smoothly on the lawn, the shrubs, the driveway, the street. Our complex world view had changed into a vision of pure simplicity. At least that is what I expected to see after a slow but steady drive home. My arrival awoke me from my apparition of a wintry Eden at my much-loved home. Living adjacent to a forest preserve means snowfall is soon more disturbed than a backyard host to snowsuit clad children.

Grey squirrel tracks copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Grey squirrel tracks copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Short research is sufficient to reveal which tracks belong to whom. The Grey Squirrel tracks look like “w”s with sets of prints. The hind paws are actually the front set of prints in this image; the smaller front paws appear in the back of this print (they are a pair but very close together). Squirrels are hoppers so this pattern is typical.

Sparrow tracks copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Sparrow tracks copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Not too surprising the most delicate prints in my yard were the Sparrow’s tracks. On the ground this bird hops, so the prints are in pairs. Notice the three toes on each foot. I sense a possible story from their movement.

Deer tracks copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Deer tracks copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Deer track copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

White Tail Deer track copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Deer tracks make public the sex of the White Tail that left the prints. The span between strides and the depth of the print in the snow reveal the relative size of the deer. Larger deer produce deep-set prints with a large amount of space between prints. Such prints would represent a buck’s visit. Males range from 50-100 pounds heavier than females along with larger body frames including longer legs. Some of the deer track are older this is event too from their weathered lack of detail. Perhaps they were made when they thought no one was watching.

White tail deer at night copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

White tail deer at night copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg