Friday, July 25, 2008

Wild animals all over Orland Park and southwest suburbs

There's a huge hawk that circles around a one square mile area around 151st and 9000 West, scoping out and killing baby rabbits. It's a horrible site to see a baby rabbit running around the yard and then a few days later find its mutilated carcass on the lawn.

Possum are frequent occurrences late at night. Their bright yellow eyes glimmer in the dark, usually in corners against the fence. One made it into the garage one time and tried to hide behind a few boxes until I opened the garage door and saw him sitting atop a railing in the garage along the stairwell. The car frightened him and he ran like the dickens. (What does like "the dickens" mean anyway?)

But this week, the dog started barking and when I looked out, I didn't see anyone walking by. But as I looked, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a shadow walking toward the mulberry tree and then slowly climb up. As I looked, I caught his long, gray and black striped tail disappear into the large green leaves of the tree.

So I went outside and at first tossed a few white decorating rocks into the tree as my son kept yelling, "You missed, dad!" Okay. Quit yelling Sandy Koufax. He's a left handed pitcher and right handed batter. Don't blame me. I can;t play sports at all. I'm lucky I remember the 1970s superstar pitcher was a southpaw.

Anyway, when that didn't work, I grabbed my trusty camera and the hose and sprayed water into the heart of the tree. And within minutes -- raccoons hate water, and homeowners who squirt them with water even more -- I saw the soaking raccoon waddle out on his tip toes, back stretched up in a clear sign that I had better be careful.

I shot this picture as he waddled away across the street, only to be chased out by the neighbor across the street who was watering his lawn. He waddled quickly, still on his tiptoes, across the street again towards 151st Street and into a group of evergreens where he hid.

(It was tough getting a clean shot at dusk running after him. He seemed like he was tip-toeing but he was still moving at a pretty good pace.)

Oh no. Not another raccoon. Years ago, a raccoon and his girlfriend -- who knows, maybe they were two gay males -- lived in my neighbors chimney. It took weeks to get him out. And a few years back, a squirrel and his girlfriend -- okay, maybe two males -- made their way into the roof of my home. At night, you'd hear them making all kinds of ruckus. Let's hope that was it. So I waited until I knew they were in there and I emptied five bottles of concentrated insect fogger into the roof, and then ran outside and waited watching the little hole in the roof eave. First, the grey mist of fogger started to make it's way out of the hole. And then a few seconds later, a screaming squirrel shot out like a bullet. And not too long after, another screaming squirrel popped out.

They were not happy. But I managed to get up there and seal the entrance.

Needless to say, I didn't have any problems with insects for a long time.

When I first moved into the house in 1986, a skunk had made her nest under the front step. I covered Chicago City Hall so I didn't think much of the odor. It just seemed normal. But one night I heard some noises in the middle of the night, and went to the front door. I looked outside and I saw a huge skunk with her tail straight up and curled, followed by four or five baby skunk one right in a row after her walking down the long driveway.

I wanted to filled the hole under the steps but I didn't do it until I knew they were out. I didn't have the heart to do it before seeing them. I didn't want to kill them. After they waddled off I quickly filled the hole with rocks, then stuffed it with plastic and poured in a gallon of ammonia on top of it. Come to think of it, that's when it really smelled like the Chicago City Council.

Ray Hanania

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