What We Miss By Sleeping

Wendy Shattil

August 5, 2020


Travel restrictions due to covid allowed me to take the time to get to know my trail camera better, as well as my wildlife neighbors. For around $100 you can get a decent camera that will allow you to capture images you otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t. They’re waterproof, motion activated and utilize infrared light. It’s small, self contained and as easy as a point-and-shoot.

After decades discovering urban wildlife in the Denver area, I’m focusing a camera on my backyard. Well, it actually started in my chimney. 

This is the second year I discovered a raccoon had her babies above the flue in my fireplace. I’m happy to have provided a safe and dry nursery, but photography of the family didn’t begin until after she carried them out of the chimney one by one. Setting the camera on the roof allowed me to see them on the way to their new home somewhere nearby.

A few weeks after they left the chimney I discovered that someone was cleaning out the sunflower seeds in my bird feeder during the night. Since the feeder was hanging about 33 inches above my bird bath, I thought it was safe from squirrels and other mammals in my yard. It took the trail cam to reveal who was responsible. And that began this year’s documentation of mom and her four kids.

I was impressed that she could reach the hanging feeder – just barely, by reaching up on her hind legs enough to tip it and spill sunflower seeds into the bird bath and onto the deck for her babies. Yes, I’m guilty of not moving the feeder out of reach. Still, I rationalize it by believing I don’t fill the feeder at night for the raccoons.  I fill it in the morning for the birds.

Over time I set my trail cam in different parts of the yard to record more of the night story and discovered what else happens while I’m sleeping. The raccoons of course, come and go with impunity. I could see on my trail cam videos that they sniffed the grass for worms, eating them like spaghetti. 

The youngsters would wrestle like puppies or kittens and learn to climb trees.

I was very impressed when my trail cam captured a red fox, seemingly healthy over the past two months, except for a useless left hind leg that didn’t seem to keep it from hunting or running at all. Two nights ago, a video clip showed the fox loping across the yard with a vole in its mouth.

It’s fun every morning to open the memory card and find out what took place during the night. I guarantee there will be surprises!

I’m using two Browning trailcams – A Dark Ops HD Pro X (BTC-6HDPX) and a Recon Force (BTC-7-4K). The photos above are still frames pulled from videos. You can see some of the videos on my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8uHz_Z91_VjLnHGHZlQA0w

Wendy Shattil


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