Between COVID-19 and the cold, many of us have found ourselves staying in more or, if venturing out, doing where there are no crowds. One of the best ways locally is to take advantage of the natural beauty that exists in your own backyard and the surrounding area.

The interest in nature all around us has grown and you can read and see photos of what your neighbors have discovered by turning on your computer and going to Riverside Nature Network page on Facebook. 

Frequent posters on that page include Valerie Jisa, Jill Mateo and Ben Sells, who provide pictures including where there is a sighting, information about the subject and when the picture was taken. You don’t have to be an avid bird watcher, but you may become one by watching the site.

Now, our backyard is a gathering place as there are birdfeeders under an awning by the side of the house. These little nature gifts have Husband Joe trained to keep the feeders filled. We attract lots of cardinals, so we call it the Vatican. 

It is also a place for the squirrels to feast and they’ve even been so bold as to climb on the window ledge outside the TV room to complain when the feeders are empty.  Recently there were 10 of them eating and there was some bullying going on. I guess animals can imitate people or is it the other way around. 

The bunnies show up at night, as does the raccoon who would like to check out the garbage. The skunk, cute though he may be, lets us know of his presence by his scent, definitely not Lilies of the Valley.

The Riverside Nature Network has also captured the magnificence of the deer that drift through the area. Stags show off their antlers and give looks as if they are posing for all to admire. 

We have had some of these visitors in our backyard, but not lately since they can be seen more along the river and Indian Gardens. They can also be seen along 26th Street going west into North Riverside, so drive carefully.

There are the foxes and coyotes who make their presence known by foot prints in the snow. See if you can identify any of the visitors to your yard. Look, learn and enjoy.