Monday, May 14, 2012

The Sounds of Spring?

The sounds  and animals of spring have always been considered ordinary in my small suburban neighborhood. I live in Michigan, just north of Grand Rapids. It's fairly normal by most standards. We have squirrels, chipmunks, robins, and rabbits, raccoons and the occasional opossum. The typical varmints.

But a few new sounds have been popping up in my yard. There are some odd chirps, although I have to admit they aren't all together unpleasant. Just a little foreign. And it's not just birds. There are frogs--although it's safe to assume they've simply taken up residence in our still unopened pool.

The most daring of my backyard wildlife is by far the squirrels. Even during the winter months. We had two unwelcome visitors to our fireplace. Some cute little squirrels dropped in for unexpected visits within two weeks of each other. The second  visit wasn't very pleasant for us, or the squirrel for that matter. The little guy avoided our live trap like the plague. We waited three days for him to set it. He was a pretty smart little squirrel. We decided to take things into our own hands, and that turned out to be a huge disaster. The squirrel burst out of the fireplace and all hell broke loose in our family room. After a half hour of chasing and cornering, we managed to grab up Mr. Squirrel and send him packing.  The same squirrels enjoy perching on the back steps to the patio and torment our cat. I've seen this enough to know these squirrels know what they're doing. Saturday morning, someone left the garage door open. I saw one of my cat's little friends  lurking. I was fairly certain he was coming onto the front porch to pay kitty a visit. All of a sudden, his bushy tail vanished. He'd made his way into the garage. Just great!  I was on my way out to my local writers group meeting, so I sneak into the garage. There's the squirrel sitting in the middle of the garage like he owned it. I chased him around the garage, the familiar squawks and squeaks from our previous visit filled the garage. He scurried around the garage, each squeak getting louder by the minute. He ended up underneath the van. I decided he'd had enough of a scare for one day and left for the meeting. When I got back, I checked the garage. The squirrel had since departed.

Despite these normal animals and sounds, lately the night life of our neighborhood has boomed--literally. Every night, around eleven, one of my neighbors decides to light off a mortar. The first night, we thought it was a gun firing. However, after subsequent evenings, that was ruled out. I'm not sure why this neighbor has decided to start celebrating the Fourth of July two months early, but perhaps it has to do with the other new nighttime sound that has come into my neighborhood. Take a listen to the YouTube video below and you'll see what I mean.


I just hope my neighbors were lighting the mortars to scare the owls and not to actually harm them. As for the horrifying sounds, two paired barred owls (they mate for life) make that sound when another owl or pair invades their territory. I've never heard anything quite like it in my life.

So what is the strangest thing you've seen or heard in your backyard?


  1. Great post about sounds, Sidney! Cicadas--noisy, noisy cicadas. But here when the corn is tall, which it is already, the wind will blow through it, making it sound as though the wind is blowing through a pine tree forest. I love being surrounded by 35 acres of forest! Even if it's just cornfields and by the end of summer, they'll be just fields of dirt again.

  2. Our squirrels are so loud! the other morning my husband woke up and said, "What is that sound?" It was squirrels. We don't have a lot of cicadas, and I can' say I envy Terry.

  3. We are in a very populated neighborhood...the only oddity is when the toads start croaking...I have no idea where they survive since we get extremely high temperatures! Oh..and of course the racket when the cats start fighting over our backyard even though none of them actually live here!

  4. Terry, we have the normal cicadas and crickets too. I've heard owls hooting and hollering while camping in the wilderness--just never in my backyard. I did some research on barred owls and it seems that they are migrating to suburban areas that are sheltered by lots of trees and foliage. I supppose the huge oak tree in my backyard is prime real estate. LOL :)

    Yes, squirrels can get pretty noisy--especially when you are chasing them around in your house or garage. :)

    Our neighborhood is pretty well populated too. But we do have a creek that runs through it and a lot of trees, so that may be why the owls find it ideal for their new living area. Toads aren't really as water dependent as frogs, so that might explain why there are more than usual where you are.

    Cat's fighting! Ack! I hate that sound. It is worse than nails on a chalkboard. LOL. Another pretty horrifying sound is that of raccoons fighting--even worse!!!

  5. The strangest was a loud noise in the middle of the night that turned out to be a young kitten in distress. One of the feral/strays that I take care of had left one of her young ones for me after they had both been covered in motor oil. I fed him with a babybottle and had him for 13 yrs. But I don't think anyone would have known that that loud ungodly noise was coming from a kitten.

  6. Catslady,
    How terrible about the motor oil. So glad you found the little guy and took care of him.

  7. I suppose the strangest and most scary was the roaring mountain lion. I thought it was on the TV at first, but it wasn't. We also have a bear who comes close to the house and eats the bird's suet. Destroys the wire cages and frustrates my hubby.

    We also have lots of squirrels. One ate through the ceiling of the upstairs bathroom and had the gall to poke his head through the hole. I bet he was smiling at me. Hubby got the large cage and transported a lot of the rascals off our property. Then, one night the entire cage disappeared and was nowhere to be found on our acre. Go figure that one!

  8. Paisley, OMG! Maybe the critters' friends came and carried the cage away. Too funny! Thanks for stopping by! :)

  9. Hi Sidney,

    You definitely have owls. I recognize them from our own nighttime serenade.

    Not sure what that one "odd bird" is. I know the schreech of squirrels and the peep of frogs. (We live in the middle of the woods.) I love those sounds...but frogs in you pool? Ugh. Open that sucker!

  10. And here I thought you were going to talk about bird songs--my favorite part of spring. Weirdest sound in my backyard was when my dog found an opossum. They are nasty creatures. It hissed.

  11. The strangest noise in this neighborhood is the mating call of the red fox--sounds like somebody's torturing a baby. We have peepers in early spring (tree frogs, love 'em), the occasional hoot owl, and supposedly coyotes are moving in from West Virginia along with bob cats (I've seen one, I want one) and mountain lions (I haven't seen one, I do not want one!).

  12. It would have to be a Blue Heron for me. We have a pond in our back yard and they love those, will try to get the fish. They are huge bird and very strange looking.

  13. The wildlife in our neighborhood used to squeal their tires at midnight. I'm so glad they were evicted! ;)

    Probably the weirdest thing we ever found in our yard was a buried canoe. Oh, and 7 conch shells also buried in the dirt. We live in Wisconsin!

    But we also found about 50 x-rays of necks in the drop ceiling of the basement. The former owner was very odd. (Like I needed to add that part. LOL)