Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cabin Life: Living With Wildlife

There’s a soft, wet blanket of snow covering everything. It’s also eerily quiet. The last two mornings I’ve been woken by a yellow-bellied sapsucker banging on the metal roof of the wood shed. And the morning before that, Pico woke me up barking at the turkeys that were walking by. Today, the birds are silent. The rabbits that are all over out here are brown on top and white on the bottom.

It’s an interesting sight as they sprint down the road in view of my headlights, then dart off into the woods. All winter, I saw lots of rabbit tracks, but no actual animals. Now that there is no snow and they are that awkward combination of colors, I see them all the time. Their winter camouflage obviously works well.

The two robins that have been hanging around are constantly scanning the ground for worms, and the ruffed grouse run that weird little scramble of theirs whenever we get close. I think most of the birds that are around, and there are quite a few, realize that we are more a source of food than a threat though. The chickadees and robins don’t take off when Pico and I are out, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker let me take a picture from about ten feet away. (For those of you who don’t know, the sapsucker is a type of woodpecker. When I took his picture, he was banging his head on a metal pipe, so maybe he’s not tame so much as brain damaged.)

The American woodcock didn’t even bat an eye when I rode by on the four wheeler. And the eastern phoebe that picks up all the seed that the chickadees drop looks akin to a gray-colored robin with no legs. It’s like a baseball with a beak. Maybe it’s just that no one lived here for a long time, so the animals are used to not being in any danger when they walk around, but I like when they come into the yard, or I see them out in the big field. And since I don’t feel like hunting, they don’t have to worry about being bothered for a long time yet.

Justin Levine is living off the grid in a cabin in the Adirondacks with his dog Pico and blogging at Middle of the Trail.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

2 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    Great picture of a pileated woodpecker feeding hole! They’re looking for black carpenter ants in that beech tree. Your yellow-bellied sapsucker is actually “singing” for a mate-they know there’s great resonance in the metal pipe so the sounds travels well. Smart birds they are.
    Woodcocks have testosterone and other bio-chemicals coursing through their blood stream this time of year, so they’re not acting too right:-)

    • Justin A Levine says:

      Hey, that’s really good to know about the sapsucker! That would also explain why he started on the metal shed roof, moved to the metal pipe, and has been hitting the metal outhouse pretty hard the last few days.

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