I’ve said this before — we live in a big cabin on a big lake in the North woods.
So it was no surprise this morning to wake up and find that we’d had visitors during the night — a black omnivore and several great sphinxes.
The black bear, Ursus americanus, had destroyed our bird feeders. Okay, we’ve heard ad infinitum the advice of our Ministry of Managed Resources: Do not feed the birds in bear season.
We had NOT been feeding the birds. The feeders were empty. A nearby metal garbage can, full to the brim with black oil sunflower seeds, was untouched. The MMR says, ad naseum, clean your barbecue : Leave no tantalizing odours. We had NOT cleaned the BBQ, yet the BBQ was untouched.
We’ve known for a week or so that there’s a bruin in our neighbourhood. A mere youth, a mere two or three hundred pounds of seed-eating, garbage-consuming, flesh-gnawing playfulness. A backyard nuisance, really. So we were expecting a visit.
Our summer neighbours next door also received a visit. Bruin left pawprints in the dew on their deck. No doubt seeking entry into a wooden cave bursting with tantalizing odours. I.e., human flesh.
If our friendly monster should graduate into a threat, the MMR will come to our aid. It will say: Call the cops. The cops will say: Has it eaten anyone? No? Well, call us when it does.
Meanwhile, we will try to live with it. After all, its ancestors had a claim on this backyard before we came.
As for the other surprise this morning: Big Poplar Sphinxes. Pachysphinx modesta. Eleven of them. Yes, I counted them. Eleven corpulent lepidopterans clinging to the screen of our patio door. The bug books say they are rare sightings. If we called the MMR, we’d get their patented response: Have they attacked anyone yet? No? Well, lucky you.
The bug book says the Big Poplar Sphinx has the heaviest body of any Ontario moth. How heavy was the one I picked up? Well, it weighed about eighty-eight times more than your common closet moth. Which is to say, practically nothing.
Its habitat is forests with poplar trees. And our backyard qualifies.
We had to use our screen door — it slides side to side. Well, one Big Poplar Sphinx fell off, and crawled to the end of the deck, tipped over the edge, and hung there
quivering. I picked it up and placed it back on the screen, but I must’ve terrified it, big monster that I am, for it fluttered off into a nearby poplar.
It is now noon, and the ten other sphinxes have not budged.
And they haven’t uttered a sound.
Just like that other Great Sphinx, eh?
P.S. – Saturday, July 12
The black omnivore returned this morning to check out the debris from his rampage. I took this picture through the window: