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Andrea's column: Andrea's animal kingdom

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When my husband and I moved to our little community 11 years ago, we weren't sure if we should pack our bird feeders. We had so many varieties of birds at the old place but worried that wouldn't be the case with all the multi-family housing in our new neighborhood.

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Because of that, we didn't put up the containers right away. Gradually, we did, though, and then began the wait to see if new feathered friends would find their way to the tasty meals awaiting them on our deck.

The doves came first. Watching them prance back and forth along the rail, I was certain they were the same ones that had entertained us with their canoodling at our former abode. My husband, the bird aficionado, disagreed. There wasn't much time to argue with him, though, because blue jays and cardinals soon came to visit. Wild canaries, house finches and hummingbirds, too.

And then, it happened. The moment I dreaded. A squirrel found its way to our railing and started carting off the peanuts intended for the blue jays. "Get out of here, you icky old squirrel," I yelled as I banged on the glass. I made my husband promise to stop putting out peanuts. After a few squirrel-free years, though, the plastic dish with the nuts went back outside.

Over the years, with my spouse's expertise, we have attracted woodpeckers -- even the huge pileated variety with its red Mohawk hairstyle -- red-winged blackbirds, orioles, hummingbirds and hawks. One hawk smacked into the sliding glass door this past winter as it zoomed in to pick up a small bird meal.

It must not have captured its prey because, seemingly dazed, it stayed atop the deck railing for quite awhile. It reminded me of Wile E. Coyote when the roadrunner outsmarted him and set his head a-spinning. I called our next door neighbor to tell her about the hawk and told her it had the ugliest orange talons (feet) I had ever seen.

This neighbor started putting out vittles for the birds a couple of years ago. My hubby was thrilled to learn about the new convert to bird-feeding. He brought her a bag of peanuts so she could attract blue jays. The squirrels found out about the new stockpile and have been running back and forth from our deck to hers ever since.

Our neighbor thinks the rat relatives are cute. I don't and gave her a darling little squirrel ornament for her Christmas tree in the hope it would make her see how un-cute the real thing is.

No luck. Every time I'm in the kitchen or sitting at the dining room table, that goofy rodent is running to and fro, scurrying down the edging to bury his findings before returning for seconds, thirds, and fourths.

There's no time to worry about him anymore, though. We have a bigger concern. A raccoon showed up two weeks ago. My husband spotted it and quickly slid shut the sliding door and bolted it. When I told another neighbor who lives two doors away, she brought in her bird feeders and said she was done feeding fowl. The fuel to her decision was the pheasants she's seen traipsing through our circle on two occasions.

All these critters are more than I bargained for when we decided to move six blocks from a downtown area. I know Rosemount isn't a busy metropolis but I never thought we would have real wildlife on our deck, for goodness' sake. I worry about what's next. Lions and tigers and bears? Oh, my!

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