“Mom! Come look what’s at the bird feeder!”
It was my daughter, calling from the kitchen, where she stood at the big window by the kitchen table. Just a few feet beyond is the wisteria arbor Mr. Wren built a decade ago, and from it hangs a couple of feeders. Over the years we’ve had a host of busy, feathered diners our garden – one time there was a peregrine falcon. It had nabbed a mouse somewhere and chose the arbor for a perch.
At this time of year we get house finches, juncos, rufous towhees, California brown towhees and sparrows flocking to our feeders. Occasionally my favorite, a big, raucous Stellar’s jay, will go for the black niger sunflower seeds, too. So it was unusual for Cary to call me to come look. I wondered what new type of bird was visiting.
Well, it wasn’t a bird. It was a big, well-fed, female roof rat (rattus rattus).
Yeah, I know. “Gahhhh! Ewwww!”
Now, I’ll be honest. I don’t like having rats set up housekeeping in the woodpile, the hedgerow and my attic. Those little beasties used to sound like they were having a kegger party up there after sundown, but bit by bit we closed up all the access holes into the attic we could find, so it’s not a problem anymore. We also place rat traps around the outside of the house about once a year.
But I have to be honest about this, too. I think our little roof rats are sort of cute. I mean, look at those big, inky-black eyes! Those wee, pink front paws that look sort of like tiny hands. Their gray-brown fur – at least on this species of rat – looks soft and sleek. I’ve never had a phobia toward rats. They don’t make me squeal and I don’t automatically connect them to filth and disease (though I’d prefer they stay outside). Certainly I don’t perceive the little creatures as evil. They’re just small animals doing their best to get on with their lives. If that means stealing birdseed from a handy feeder, then, well, why not?
The rat, oblivious to us watching her from the window, worked busily at the mesh, extracting seeds, then cracking them with her sharp teeth and discarding the hulls, enjoyed the tender seeds within. She was there for about a half hour.
It’s after dark now and raining outside. The weather folks are saying it will turn into snow overnight, but that we won’t get more than an inch or two. Tomorrow is forecast to be partly cloudy, partly sunny, with a high in the 50s. The snow will melt away fast.
Spring has arrived in this part of the world, even if the vernal equinox isn’t until March 20. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.
It is really a cute rat though lol! I love this time of year with the birds singing and going crazy everywhere and oh the flowers! My mother has a tulip tree and she gave me a clipping…it is so pretty and I have it right here on my desk! 🙂
I think it’s really cute, too! Although I have to say, I think most animals are, animal lover that I am…. 🙂 L
Wow, your birds sound so exotic from over here in the UK … the good ol’ rat’s just the same though, although I’ve never heard them called ‘roof rats’. ;o)
What a great post, and thanks for the weekend wishes, wren. We have a bird-feeder that needs its name changes to “rodent-feeded” too! LOL
I agree – very cute! Thanks for the smile.