Category Archives: Nightime Wildlife

Here’s Looking at You

Two days ago our friend Cindy (one of our bird ID experts) sent an email with these terrific photos of two Barred Owls taken in her back yard in a Sandy Springs subdivision.  She was generous enough to let us post the pictures along with her story which follows.

“My husband & I live in the southern Roswell neighborhood of Northcliff, near the Chattahoochee River.  It’s a heavily forested, residential area with people & dogs walking, biking, running & playing in the river.  Wildlife is abundant in the area, but setting up a couple of bird feeders & bird baths [has helped] to bring the critters closer to you for observation.”

Barred Owl“Two owls sometimes visit our backyard late in the afternoon or early evening while I water plants & clean birdbaths. They usually perch on a low tree branch to watch me as a handful of brave chickadees brazenly scold the much larger owls.  We are thankful to get to observe these owl friends from time to time — especially in our own backyard.”

“I am a 4th generation Atlanta native & my background is in education & environmental science. My love of nature & the outdoors was influenced by my grandparents, who maintained a backyard organic garden for decades, long before ‘organic’ was cool. As a child, I cherished visiting them — watching birds & playing with worms, skinks & garter snakes while doing our outdoor chores.”

Barred OwlWe have Barred Owls in Peachtree Park, but we haven’t been as successful as Cindy getting a picture.  However, we were able to record them calling in our back yard – check out our post title Who Cooks for You? from September.

Atlanta AudubonWe first met Cindy when she came to certify our yard as a wildlife sanctuary with the Atlanta Audubon Society.  It was fun and Cindy taught us a lot emphasizing these key attributes: “items like a water feature (birdbath), native plants that provide food, places for wildlife to hide (like  brush piles or shrubby area) & places for wildlife to nest & raise young.”

Join the fun and let’s get some more yards certified in Peachtree Park!

Yassum, That’s Our Possum

Well, he’s not really ours, but he does live here and we like having him around.  “Why?” you say.  For one thing, he’s very cool.  Watch as he makes his way through our yard at night.

Another reason we like him is because he’s our cleanup crew.  Any small animal that meets an untimely end will be sniffed out and eaten overnight.  How helpful and efficient!  He, or his offspring, been living under our deck for over 15 years.  He’s shy, and our cats get along fine with him.

Opossum-CindyPope

courtesy Cindy Pope via Wikimedia

Right, OK – the correct name is Opossum which is borrowed from the Virginia Algonquian (Powhatan) language, and was first recorded between 1607 and 1611 by the Jamestown colonists.  But they are commonly called possums in the South and Midwest. They are the largest order of marsupials in the western hemisphere with 103 species.

Possums are usually solitary and nomadic, staying in one area as long as food and water are easily available. Some families will group together in ready-made burrows or even under houses. When threatened or harmed, they will “play possum”, mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal.

Opossums have a remarkably robust immune system, and show partial or total immunity to the venom of rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and other pit vipers.  Opossums are about eight times less likely to carry rabies than wild dogs, and about one in eight hundred opossums is infected with this virus.