Maybe they’d come prowling before, but had left no sign. Maybe it was the suet I’d hung on the hook only a couple of days earlier that attracted them. But on the night of our first snow, they came a’calling. We spotted the telltale tracks of their investigations first thing next morning. Raccoons! Looked like a pair of them, and they’d checked out every possible food source in my back yard: suet feeder, bird feeder and composter.
The suet feeder, on a shepherd’s hook that normally stands upright, had been pulled down to coon-nose level. Not eaten though. Guess that wasn’t to their taste, although it is something these omnivores will eat.
On the deck, lots of muddy footprints (they must have been under the deck, too) showed they’d pattered through the spilled sunflower seed from the bird feeder. With only a slender perching rail on it for the birds, there was no way a raccoon could occupy the feeder itself. So they’d climbed onto the deck rail, reached up and tipped it. I’m darned sure it was full the day before!
The composter I use
for veggie trimmings….they just took a look and passed that by. But raccoons will
eat almost anything. That’s why they easily adapt to living near human
habitation, feasting off the food we may inadvertently leave outside — from picnic leftovers in a park to corn
growing in the back garden. You can find out more about ways we’ve made it easy for these furry neighbors to move into urban areas across the country in a
fascinating book, City Critters (Orca, 2012) by Nicholas Read.
Living in this rural subdivision for 15 years, we’ve seen deer, coyotes, even bears and tracks of cougars. Raccoons have good options around here for dens, and they must be thriving, boldly making the rounds of likely snacking spots. I expect we’ll see more signs of them….even if they do their prowling so silently we won’t likely hear them. But I’ll be taking in the feeders at night until they decide to bed down for the coldest parts of the winter. No more ‘free lunches’ around here!