Young of the year a welcomed sight in Pennsylvania, offer hope for the future
Perhaps it’s just that I’ve been home more often over the past few months to notice, but there seems to be an uptick in wildlife this year. From my backyard alone, I’ve noticed an increased variety and number of birds at the feeder, countless squirrels and other welcome guests.
One fertile groundhog residing near the neighbor’s horse barn produced an impressive seven babies. My son enjoys counting them when they come out to feed on white clover in the evenings. Another neighbor reported a den of five fox pups under her shed porch. We’ve seen the vixen hunting on various occasions. Thus far, she hasn’t made a move on our chickens, but we keep them in an enclosed run to be extra cautious.
Just before sundown each night, we spot baby cottontails emerging from beneath the woodshed or a nearby pile of bucked logs I still need to split. My bird dog Cali can burn two straight hours obsessively circling both locations, sticking her nose into every orifice possible, searching for them amid the afternoon sun.
Eastern bluebirds are especially plentiful, having fledged one nest already, and I suspect, preparing for a few more rounds this summer. I’ve also seen behavior indicative of nesting from gray catbirds, goldfinches, American robins, purple finches, northern cardinals, house sparrows and tree swallows.
Peeking into the farm pond, it is evident the frogs had another healthy year, as tadpoles scurry for cover upon my shadow’s approach. The same goes for Canada geese as fuzzy-bottomed goslings waddle behind their parents at the large pond further down the hollow.
But the most exciting arrivals, at least for our family, are the baby fawns that appear each year. Every time we see a swollen-bellied doe saunter across the grown-up pasture in late April or early May, we know it won’t be long until we’re treated to the joyful sight of a little deer frolicking around the property to find its legs.
My neighbor Todd had a little guy turn up in his backyard recently. The fawn made itself comfortable enough to allow him to snap a quick photo and then observe from a distance, knowing momma surely was keeping tabs from the security of nearby woods cover. He sent me the photo, and with his permission, I’ve included it as the accompanying image for this blog post.
It’s always a special delight to see the regeneration of local wildlife, as it provides a bright outlook for the future — a living testament that a seed has been carried forward into a new generation. Which reminds me, about this time last year I reported in a post that my wife and I were expecting a baby girl. Amazingly, she turns one year old next month already.
Indeed, young of the year are a welcomed blessing, and the future is bright.