“Somewhere in the black mining hills of Dakota there lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon.” I suppose McCartney and Lennon were referring to the Black Hills of South Dakota in that Beatles song, from their late 1960′s “White Album,” but Mr. Raccoon has been in my yard recently. I returned home one evening to find my tube feeder, which was hanging from an aspen branch and full of sunflower seeds, lying broken on the ground.
This isn’t the first time a raccoon has helped himself to food set out for the birds. It seems that these masked bandits steal a meal and destroy a feeder at least every other summer in my yard. I can’t be sure that they are the culprits every time, but I wouldn’t bet against it. Raccoons don’t wear that “robber’s mask” for nothing.
Several years ago I had to fill our oriole-hummingbird feeder weekly. It hung from a branch of a green ash tree a few feet away from our boundary fence. I had a hard time believing the orioles and hummingbirds could eat that much in one week. As I was to learn, they didn’t. I was surprised one morning to discover the feeder empty and muddy raccoon footprints going up, and at the top of, a support post on our boundary fence by the feeder. Apparently the raccoon could climb the post and swat the feeder just enough to spill the sugar-water mixture into its mouth, or spill enough so it could lap it up on the ground below. I suspect many of you have a raccoon story or two to tell as well.
Raccoons are one of the most adaptable animals in North America. Some animals are intolerant of humans while others, such as the raccoon, thrive around us. They can be found in woodlands, farmsteads, as well as both urban and suburban environments. They seem to find food and shelter most everywhere, and there are few among us that do not have a family of raccoons nearby. We just need to learn how to deal with raccoons around our homes.
So, if Rocky Raccoon doesn’t stumble over the milk bottles on Uncle Wiggily’s back porch while returning from his most recent foray, next week I’ll tell you the story of Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy and the purple coneflower.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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