Creatures Great & Small


We live just outside the city – a 10 minute drive – in an old residential area with lots of big, big trees and large areas of designated green space/brush. So, there’s a fair bit of wildlife that has made its home alongside the human residents of this neighbourhood. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that the wildlife is struggling to exist in the tiny bits of green space that haven’t yet been taken over by the human residents.

Anyway, when I go running, I go very early in the morning, just as it’s starting to get light. First, because I still have some energy then and can get the whole exercise business over with and get on with my day. But also because the air is fresher, there are no cars and only a few people around that early (dog walkers and other runners).

So, most mornings I also get the pleasure of communing a little bit with the local wildlife before they go back into hiding for the day.

However, this morning, I hit the jackpot. I don’t know what was going on last night in the critter world, but it was like a freakin’ no-petting zoo out there. A Disney movie’s worth of chirpy, prancey, skulkly, scrabbly, creatures. In 45 short minutes here’s what I encountered (along with the usual assortment of birds, dogs, cats, ducks, geese, squirrels and chipmunks):

  • 5 rabbits
  • 2 raccoons (Together)
  • A wild turkey (On someone’s roof)
  • A deer (Looked like a fully grown doe. The second deer I’ve seen this week)
  • A fox (At least I think it was a fox. It scurried by very quickly and was in among the shrubbery. It might have been a coyote or maybe a small puma, but I don’t think there are too many of those in Ottawa)
  • And, a big fat waddling gorgeous[1] LePew . (Fortunately I could smell him just before I saw him so was able to give him a very wide berth without having to make any sudden movements that might have scared him).

 I really need to get a pair of those camera sunglasses I’d been fantasizing about inventing for years until I found out they already exist. It’s just impractical to carry an actual camera while running.  And I see the most amazing things. 

[1] I’ve seen a lot of skunks in my life, but nothing like this beautiful creature. It was huge and dark, glossy black with two thick dazzlingly white stripes down its back and an enormous, proud, feathery tail. Seriously, this is the first time I’ve ever gawped in admiration at the beauty of a skunk. (While veering carefully away from it)lepew

18 responses to “Creatures Great & Small

  1. My parents live near where you do. (I grew up in the ‘hood.) I’d often see rabbits… but the wild turkey is new. I wonder if it’s that same rafter of turkeys they had in Kanata. Seems like an odd thing to see.

    Around Terrace we see Turkey vultures.

    Near here… we see racoons. Lots of bear sized racoons.

  2. Nat – The wild turkeys have been around as long as I’ve been here (2 years). Sometimes there are 3 or 4 of them in a group. They wander around on lawns and on people’s roofs. They’re freakin’ huge.

    Susan – Okay. A mole definitely counts as wildlife. What did you do with it?

    LGS – The animals are always there, but I usually only see one or two of them during a run. Today was special. The only thing I don’t see in my neigbourhood is groundhogs, but they’re all over where I work.

    Pinklea – That’s what people tell me they are. They are gigantic bird-like creatures maybe 2 ½ – 3 feet high and I guess they can fly (contrary to WKRP) because I see them on roofs a lot.

  3. Just be careful. As we know from Disney’s scientific nature films all animals can talk to each other. Unlike in Disney’s scientific nature films the animals have all gotten a lot meaner, due to these tough economic times.

  4. Pepe le Pew has been a semi-regular visitor to our back yard for the past year or so. I’ve seen the turkey and her young ‘uns crossing Pleasant Park as wel as a biggish box turtle in the Elmvale Acres parking lot.
    But the coolest thing I’ve seen in our hood was a group of 7 deer a coupla years back at Walkley and Russell by the Gaint Tiger. Amazing.
    Funny enough, my midddle subunit just watched the original Bambi for the first time tonight.
    And for the record, Herb Tarleck tossed out domestic turkeys into the Cincinnati night… unlike their tamed cousins, wild turkey can get a bit of loft.
    Poor Les Nessman. He was pretty traumatized.

  5. I’ve been told that in the neighborhood where I’ll be living, there will be some critters around too. I shall keep my eyes open to see if my furry neighbors are anything like yours.

  6. I think fox are some of the most beautiful animals I’ve ever seen. We have them here, though I hear them more than see them (they are very loud at night).

  7. I live smack in the middle of a decent size city and it always amazes me how much wildlife I see. We have squirrels, all kinds of birds, possums, foxes, coyotes and bobcats.

    I walked our dog at dusk one night and saw a fairly young coyote just walking up the path ahead of me, not afraid at all. He was obviously separated from his mother. He checked us out and went on his way. The next night I walked out the front door with the dog and the coyote pup just happened to be sitting on our porch. I felt bad because I know these animals are hungry and thirsty, but it can get a little scary trying to coexist with animals that would just as soon eat my dog.

  8. I saved a baby opossom from the pool the other day. It looked like a rat with a giant head, but wasn’t nearly as tasty. Meanwhile, I thought we talked about this. That place is lousy with bears. And where there are pumas, there are bears. And you? You’re a Chicken Canugget. You might as well wear a backpack filled with honey mustard and a spork.

  9. Last night when I let the dogs out my side garage door into the backyard, they started sniffing wildly around the arbor over the walkway. Currently there are some branches resting on that arbor and those branches are loaded with almost-ripe peaches. I think there was a RAT scuffling around up there munching on the peaches. *cringe* My dogs were going nuts and seeing as how in the 4 years I have lived there, they have brought two rats inside (there is ivy at the rear of the yard and it harbors the dastardly rats), I quickly herded them back into the house and slammed the door until morning.


    It’s the tails on rats that give me the heebie jeebies. THE TAILS!!!!!

  10. Skunks are beautiful – though most of the time you don’t really realize it. I had a friend in college who had one as a pet. She found it as a baby close by its dead mother. She (the skunk not the fried) was de-perfumed and was the sweetest thing.

    Though the whole idea of a wild animal as a pet… not so much. On the other hand, without her it would certainly have died.

  11. Bandobras – I’m always very polite – ever since the time I said something rude to a crow that was being especially loud and he followed me for blocks dive-bombing me every few minutes and screeching in my ear. It was pretty scary.

    Trashee – I’ve never seen the turtle! I’ve seen quite a few of these turkeys around though. And thanks for mentioning them since some people here seem to be a tad skeptical on the wild turkeys.

    Chris – Ottawa is awash with wild critters. The city has been decimating their habitats like nobody’s business lately so they haven’t all had a chance to die off yet. A few more suburbs and big box stores ought to do the trick though.

    Kimberly – I’ve never heard a fox! What kind of sound do they make?

    Mo – It must be a fairly recently developed area? I think it takes a while for these creatures to be wiped out completely. As long as there’s still a little brush around for them to hide in they’ll eke out an existence.

    Mayopie – I’ve never seen a bear in my actual neighbourhood, though I’ve hear there are some a bit further out from the city. There was a half-naked guy cutting his lawn on the other block yesterday who I thought was a bear at first but turned out only to be an overweight Italian. Pumas aren’t indigenous to Ottawa or anywhere near Ottawa or anywhere else in Canada except maybe parts of BC – maybe. Canada does carry the Puma line of sportswear however. (PS: I can’t run with a backpack full of condiments)

    Elaine – Why don’t you pick those peaches? They’ll finish ripening on your window sill – although now they have rat spit all over them I probably wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole. I hate rats. And all rodents really. And people who look and/or act like rodents.

    Jazz – Yup, that was one handsome looking skunk. Are they smart as well as good-looking? Can they do tricks? Remember stuff? Are they smarter than cats for instance?

  12. That is one of the nice things about working during the night. I get so excited when I see a fox. A deer would have me over the moon (haven’t seen any in these parts in years). The excitement decreases with the toads, possums, cats, skunks, rabbits.

    I, too, saw an absolutely gorgeous specimen of skunk the other night – HUGE with very bright white stripes that glowed like the lines on the road …hmmm, oh no.

  13. That’s cool! We have a fox that frequents our backyard. He likes to take a nap by one of our trees. We’re pretty sure he’s related to Foxie (remember that story? the one who completed the at least one leg of the circle of life under our deck?) It’s a good thing you didn’t startle the skunk; that’s for sure!

  14. that morning running experience is a great way to start your day, not that i’ve ever been a runner but i’ve done the morning walk thing off and on (more off) and it’s really a treat.

    i had no idea there were glasses like that but love the idea of them. i’ve always wanted a video recorder hooked up to my brain in order to see what’s going on up there that i’m missing 🙂

    i don’t believe i’ve ever seen a raccoon in person, i love that you saw all those critters that day. i wonder if the moon was full or something else of the like?