DEAR JOAN: For some time I've heard occasional raucous cawing in the air. Then last week, I saw a great blue heron taking its time scoping out our bitty pond, from which it ate all the 10-inch goldfish awhile back. While it was standing on the neighbor's fence and then our back fence, there was a crow screeching with regularity.
The crow moved to within a few feet of the heron on the back fence. I am thinking, prompted by your column, that perhaps the crow has a nest nearby that it was protecting with loud complaint.
This spring I have seen the crows flying closer to our pond, and am impressed at their size. I have also seen one harass a squirrel on our back fence although the crows are vigilant to avoid the neighborhood cats that spend time here.
Just now a cat has come to sit at the corner, where it can peer into our little patio, as well as the common area to our east and the yards to the north of us. Our pond is a constant source of drink and entertainment for the wildlife, as well as entertaining to us.
A tree behind us has just fully leafed out and there are tender seed pods that the squirrels are diligently eating. I sit in my recliner a good deal, reading the paper on the iPad and watching television, and I am diverted by the pageant of life in our tiny patio. It may not be true wilderness but it enchants, amuses and educates. Hey, I sunburn and have allergies; this is my kind of outdoor adventure.
DEAR SUSAN: The wilderness is where we find it.
My backyard is almost completely cemented in, but I have orange, lemon and plum trees as well as a garden of potted plants. This morning when I was out watering my garden and feeding the tortoise that has adopted us, I was grinning ear to ear listening to the bees humming around the amazing smelling lemon blossoms and watching the hummers flitting about.
In the front, I have bird feeders in my gorgeous Chinese pistache tree, and I could sit for hours watching the finches and scrub jays.
Wouldn't it be nice if everyone took the time to enjoy what was there, and instead of looking for ways to keep creatures out of our space, we just sat back and enjoyed the show?
Take five minutes to look out your windows, then write and tell me what wild wonders you saw.
DEAR JOAN: This is the usual time for us to see doves looking for nesting sites. This year I have been seeing one or more doves that are a little larger than the usual mourning doves, and they have a black, crescent-shaped collar on the back of the neck.
My bird books show a similar dove, the Eurasian collared dove, which appears to be out of range for this area. Any insights?
DEAR JIM: Despite their name, the Eurasian collared dove is now common throughout most of the United States and southern Canada. Thirty years ago you wouldn't have found one in the entire country, but in the 1970s, they were introduced in the Bahamas and a decade later, they were in Florida. Since then, they've been quite prolific.
Mourning and collared doves are similar, but if you listen carefully, you'll hear the collared dove's call, described as "koo-KOO-kook," a bit shorter and sounding a tad more impatient than the mourning dove.