It may not look or feel like it yet, but spring really is on its way. You can see it in the way cardinals are flirting and feeding each other, in the buds on the mayflowers almost ready to bloom and the way the ocean appears more green than indigo.
No matter where you live, you no doubt have many neighbors, both human and not. Even downtown Hyannis and the mall parking lots have many residents that not everyone notices. If you get out and walk around your neighborhood with a curious eye and ear, you should notice all sorts of activity. Crows are nesting, hawks are mating and even the chickadees have their eyes out for just the right nesting spot.
Many of our mammal neighbors have already had their young or will be having them very soon. This is the season for baby squirrels, bunnies, possums and raccoons. The parents of all these tiny babies are very protective but may not be obvious to you. If you find a nest of bunnies, please remember that mom does not hang around the nest during the day. At all. She is probably in hiding nearby but not in a place where you are likely to spot her. Countless baby bunnies are “rescued” every spring by well meaning humans. In most of these instances the babies will be just fine. Leave them where you find them.
The same is true of squirrels. If a branch falls with a squirrel nest in it, the mom will quickly move the babies but not under your watchful eye. She wants privacy so please give it to her. And yes, she can see you peeking out your window.
Not all humans are happy to have animal neighbors, especially in their sheds or garages, but try and see it as a gift. When else will you be privy to so much baby goodness? They will move on soon enough and then you can close up whatever entrance they used to get in. If you don’t want small rodents, snakes and things like beehives around, make sure you don’t have piles of old branches, leaves, etc. close to the house. Those invite all sorts of creatures, which for some is a boon. If you’re thinking they need to be farther out in the boonies, then clean up soon. It may already be too late.
Birds like Carolina wrens and house finches find all sorts of interesting places to put their nests and raise their young. Some will use wreaths on doors, flower pots or even old shoes or boots. Wrens, especially, will sneak into places through broken windows and nest in a cozy spot in your shed, garage or walk in basement.
For those that wish to encourage birds and other wildlife as neighbors, it is not difficult to do. Plant local plants and shrubs, offer a bit of shelter and put out a water supply. Keep it moving or change it at least once a day to discourage insects, such as mosquitoes from laying eggs there. You can put out nesting boxes but do a little homework first. Sometimes the birds that nest in those boxes are not necessarily the ones you want to encourage, such as house sparrows and starlings. Many people hope to attract bluebirds, but you must have the right kind of habitat for them. Even if bluebirds came to your winter feeders, you may not have the right kind of place for them to nest.
Baltimore orioles, gray catbirds and hummingbirds will arrive by the beginning of May. That’s something worth singing about.