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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group. It is a place for the Dkos community members to note any observations they have made of the world around them. Insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and flowers are worthy additions to the bucket. Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located in the comments. Each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unfolding around us.
Gooseville, WI

This winter has been harsh for the small possum that lives in a sheltered pile of leaves and grasses under the porch deck.  Frostbite has shortened by a half-inch the naked tail and ripped ragged edges on ear tips this season. The heated water dish and scattered leavings under the bird feeders are welcome relief.

Opossums don't hibernate in minus 50 degree below zero wind chills. I do, sort of.

Virginia Opossum Didelphis virginiana

Here's an earlier possum bucket.

Ever wonder how a possum gathers and carries nesting material back to its den?  Here's the seldom seen secret of using a prehensile tail as extra hands. I was thrilled to observe and record it. A first for me to experience.


After gathering fresh dry bedding, a possum can get side-tracked by a midnight snack of peahen grain crumbles, seeds and cat food.


When finished with the meal, the prized stash of leaves, grasses, pine needles and twigs is carefully gathered up with a curly tail. Nothing was left behind.


It's a giggle to watch a possum waddle back home dragging the warmth of new insulation stuffed under its butt.


The peahen moved in and adopted our deck as home early last September. Her story is here.


This peahen has an intolerance for wandering neighborhood cats and small Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks that stop by to watch the bird feeders. She holds her territory well.

The stealthy bird prepares to shoo an unaware cat off the deck with the vengeance of a fire-breathing dragon.    

In my mind, she's a mini-Smaug, but she hasn't read the book. The cat might agree after the fright and flight.

Cats running wildly through deep snow is worthy of a video. I do love house cats, though.


She easily allows the little possum that shares her deck to feast on her bounty with no malice.


There's no intimidation or threat. They survive together. Food! Glorious food!

That's the Gooseville story of the possum and the peahen.


Update: The Polar Vortex peahen rescue idea has been hatched! The peahen will not survive a real minus 20 degrees below zero with a -50 degree wind chill.

It's simple. Grab the chilled hen off the deck and put her in the guest bathroom until the worst is over.

Update: Keep the front door open and walk out with mealworms in a dish. She is huddled in a corner of the house near the open door. Wait until she looks at the food and leap to grab her body and pivot with her into the warm house. Slam the door with your butt and she's in the house. Simple.

Update: Inside, she flaps out of my hands and dances across the dining room table, bouncing in flight off the low hanging ceiling fixture scattering the paperwork and Christmas candy. She flies to the rafters in the living room. Dang!


Update: Let her settle up on the rafters. Be quiet. It's raining downy feathers. She sees her feed tray, the bird feeders and water dish outside from the other side of the glass doors. She flies down to flutter against the doors and taps on the glass. I grab her again and hurry upstairs to her guest room in the bathroom.

She went limp, didn't fight, didn't peck or scratch.



Update: Add food and water, and plenty of puppy poo sheets on the floor and dresser. She's a messy eater and then some.

Update: After pulling down the curtains and curtain rod, towels off the towel bar and unrolling the toilet paper roll, she settled down for the whole week of warmth. I'll remember to remove those things if it ever happens again.

Update: She spends most of the day looking out the window. She nests in the sink. I caught her once laying next to the vent listening to Wisconsin Public Radio coming from the other room. Smart bird.


Update: Jan. 11. The temperature rose above zero, so I opened the window to allow her release. She ran away for a day and a night, but returned a day later to eat mealworms and cat food on her deck. She is sleeping in the maple tree tonight, as always. Have I been forgiven?

What's new in your neck of the woods? This bucket has been temporarily tipped over by the peahen in the house, but it's all better now.



"Green Diary Rescue" is Back!

"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page.  

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing and PWB Peeps.

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