It’s always a thrill when wildlife visits our cabin in Silver Gate. Finding three otters in the stretch of Soda Butte Creek that borders our back yard was one of the highlights of the winter.
March kicked off with another memorable encounter when a moose family stopped by to say hello. “There’s a big animal in our yard,” Marie announced. “A moose! Two more!”
Sure enough, a moose mom and two good-sized yearling calves were ambling towards us from the creek. We watched through our front windows as they turned and walked over to our neighbor’s place before circling back. The calves cut over to our front sidewalk while the mom easily navigated the deep snow below our deck.
Camera in hand, I slipped out our side door, worried I might spook them. To my surprise both calves began calmly approaching me. Eyes wide and ears forward, they walked right up to the foot of the deck stairs, close enough that I had to stifle the urge to reach out and pet them. A light snow was falling and the air was so still I could hear each puff of the calves’ breath. Their mom seemed totally unconcerned.
Later I asked Jill and Greg, our neighbors who’ve lived here a long time, if they thought someone had been feeding the moose. The said they doubted it, that moose calves tend to be wary but also pretty curious.
The moose family showed up again the next two mornings. I was in Yellowstone and missed them both times, but we were happy that Marie’s daughter Audrey – who’d just arrived for a visit – had a chance to see them.
Audrey also had plenty of chances to see a local fox that Jill and Greg have been calling Hermione. For most of the winter we’ve been maintaining a bird feeder, and we think Hermione has been interested in the stray seeds that fall to the ground, or the possibility of catching a bird, or both. She’s extremely skittish and good photos have been tough to get. If Hermione sees us move – even inside the cabin – she immediately bolts away.
At one point in the middle of March it was warm enough that melting snow created a little pond in our driveway, and a bison decided it was a good place to grab a drink.
Later in March my niece Kate came for a visit. As Marie, Kate and I were eating dinner one night a small orange face appeared beside us at the window. “Uh, there’s a fox right there…” said Kate. Unlike Hermione, this fox seemed very comfortable around people and far more interested in our dinner than it should have been. I went outside for a closer look, assuming the fox would dart away, but instead it came right up to me. It seemed disappointed when it realized there would be no handout.
I’ve never considered myself much of a bird person, but Marie and I have really enjoyed watching all the activity at our bird feeder over the winter. Seven species have been our regular customers – Mountain Chickadees, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Pine Grosbeaks, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, Steller’s Jays, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Canada Jays. The Canada Jays, which are bold enough to take food from our hands, have been a particular favorite.
Now that bears are starting to emerge from hibernation it’s time to take down the bird feeder for the season. Our bird crew has grown quite pushy, and we’re confident they will not react kindly to the new world order.
I love it that we never know what we’re going to see when we look out our window. (In early March someone actually saw a wolverine just eight miles from our place!) We’ve been disappointed that we haven’t spotted a single pine marten this season, but the otters, moose, bison, and foxes have more than picked up the slack.