We’ve been back in camp for a little over a week now for the fall semester. Since I’ve been here, and gotten settled in I’ve watched the wildlife on the property settle right in with us.
Living with the land isn’t just about what we take and use from it, it’s also about getting to know our “neighbors” and their habits. At my space on the property, the first to come back are the chickadees. They’re the most inquisitive and least shy of the birds around here, hopping in to check out whatever I’m doing at the slightest opportunity. I’ve read that they’re attracted to the sound of dead trees falling because of the plethora of insect larva and other goodies they can forage from it, so when humans swing axes and bring down trees the same response is elicited. I love watching them come cheep cheeping into my camp when I’m splitting up firewood, or adding to the brush pile, knowing they’ll get something once I walk away.
They tend to act as ambassadors of sorts for me and my campsite. Once they’ve gotten comfortable in a place, the other, more shy birds start to come in one by one. Usually the nuthatches first, then wrens and finches. Now that I’ve been here a little while, the whole neighborhood has stopped in to visit. I spent a few mornings having coffee by the fire while watching a hermit thrush and a goldfinch chatter back and forth as they gathered their breakfast from the undergrowth.
We also have a mated pair of ravens that live around the property, and each semester they get less and less shy. This week they’ve been watching the group from an old birch in our quad, and sweeping in to get any bits of bannock or other food scraps, then flying back into the birch to, I imagine, sit and gossip about how careless we are about our food. The biggest members of the corvid family are notoriously shy, so knowing we’re slowly starting to become the norm for them makes me feel like a true resident of the space we occupy. All the other things we do in the woods, like shelter building, and harvesting wild food makes us more comfortable, but it’s great to see the woods becoming more comfortable with us.