Backyard Wildlife College Newsletter 3/4:1 (2020-2021)*

“More than just fluffy bunnies”

(Backyard Wildlife College, Allentown PA, est. 2017)

* If you think this is a weird way of dealing with volume/year, wait till you see European sinology journals. Just sayin’.

Greetings, friends and sympathizers of the coolest little unofficial nature corner on the interwebs! It’s been a while, but we won’t even apologize for the silence last year in publishing our newsletter. This is what happens when a pandemic knocks sixteen months out of the collective memory of the the human world (including for our editor and groundskeeper).

Feathered and Furry Division infrastructure improvements:

Jumping right in with the state of affairs in summer 2021, we are pleased to announce massive improvements in our infrastructure since we last wrote, and in particular dining facilities, courtesy of some investment accounts coming to fruition, and one donation from admirers of the college. Thank you, Mr. & Dr. A!

squirrel-sized picnic bench with a jar of peanuts on top, placed indoor on a brown carpet.
Handcrafted and donated by Mr. A & Dr. A.

The squirrels have enjoyed the extra winter provisions, and went straight into training for the Tokyo Olympics.

They are very disappointed to hear they were not allowed to compete in the gymnastics because it’s for humans only. Nonsense, as you can tell from the following photo: our athletes are extremely talented and dedicated, even combining mealtimes with training sessions!

Squirrel hangs upside down from a metal ring shaped like a spiral, which contains peanuts. The squirrel is eating a peanut. There is snow on the ground, but the sun shines.
Training continues during mealtimes.

The heated birdbath was a hit with small furry and feathered creatures alike during the snowy month of February. Said one faculty member of the feathered division: “Yes, there was snow, but really: my stomach isn’t a micro-wave! This water at drinking temperature is much, much better.” The groundskeeper decided to keep the birdbath in summer at ground level, to provide access for the smaller furry creatures, who make great use of the extra hydration station. Two nearby birdbaths at height continue to provide comfortable bathing facilities for the feathered faculty during the summer months.

Heated bird bath: yes, it works!

Creepy Crawly Division infrastructure improvements:

We have expanded our wildflower strip at the back of the human dwelling from 2020, and this season it includes a few feet along the side of the dwelling. As some of you may know, we have a public-private partnership (PPP) with a mowing crew for the lawn, and we do not have the power to change this. After an unfortunate weed-wacker incident, which set back the start of the growing season by a few weeks, our groundskeeper has successfully clarified the boundaries with the crew, and the wildflowers are bursting into bloom! We are very excited to welcome our usual array of bumblebees, honeybees, various solo bees, hover-flies and many, many small but fine Creepy Crawly faculty and students to explore the area with abandon.

Special Summer Guest!

No summer newsletter would be complete without an update of our special summer guest: Mrs. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Hummie for the friends), our annual visitor who teaches the Colibri Course.

And why would she go elsewhere? We have everything a hummingbird could desire: world-class nectar, made from the purest sugar and distilled water in perfect proportions, served in glass feeders, replaced at regular intervals and now also kept ant-free; and clothes line to perch on for preening sessions, or when taking a break from hunting flies over the compost bin. As Hummie put in her review: “Four stars, would recommend to a friend if I weren’t so territorial.”

The only thing we’d like to add but don’t know how, is teeny-tiny humming-bird-sized towels for when the rain pours down. But she knows where to take shelter:

Somebody give Hummie a towel! If you look very carefully, you can occasionally see her long tongue in this video.

We hope you enjoyed this update, and aim to bring you more news soon of our summer residents here at Backyard Wildlife College!

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About Tineke

Flemish Belgian formerly living in the US, now back home. Eternally amazed at the world around her. Knitter, (sometimes) yarn spinner, returning long distance runner, ex academic historian of China and East Asia. Opinionated about chocolate and beer.

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