When I moved halfway across the world, I noticed different animals in my backyard. Back in Portland, I saw robins pulling worms out of the ground and chickadees at our bird feeder. I heard a baby hawk squeaking for food. I saw cute little squirrels with floppy ears that my dog loved to chase. Sometimes, at night, it sounded like a hundred million frogs and toads were croaking in the wetland by my house. My neighbor told us that there used to be rabbits before the coyotes came to Maplewood. In Finland, I have learned to expect different sounds and sights.
Sometimes, two squirrels come right outside our kitchen window. We see a big red one and a little brown one that we think is a baby. In Finland, the squirrels’ ears have little tufts of fur that make their ears look like they are standing straight up. They look for bird food and other scraps. Sometimes, we put out pieces of cracker for the birds, but the squirrels find it first. Also, sometimes, when we’re eating meals, they climb on the vine and hit against the window. Once, when our back door was open because it was hot, the baby squirrel put his front paws on the inside door mat. My mom screamed and he ran away. They are very tame.
We also see rabbits, European Hares, outside our kitchen window. Usually they’re brown, but in the winter their ears and fur around their heads turn white. They are gigantic, compared to pet rabbits in America, so to my family they at first looked like they were dogs, or even coyotes. Once my mom and I saw one taking a dirt bath. In the springtime, I have learned, the females hit the males to tell them they’re not ready to mate, or to challenge them. Sometimes, in the wintertime, the bunnies sleep under the pine tree in our front yard. The bunnies may be big, but they sure are cute!
Birds are some of the loudest animals in Finland. In the winter we saw only magpies, but now that spring has come, we see other kinds. Now we see birds like wagtails, blackbirds, and robins. The robins here are different than American Robins. They are European Robins, which are smaller. Their chests also look more orange, rather than red. We try to feed the birds, but the squirrels always get at the food first! Not only are there birds in our backyard, but we also live really close to a lake where a lot of black-headed gulls live. Black-headed gulls are a kind of gull that make nests out of old reeds. They like to live on bodies of water. The national bird of Finland is a Whooper Swan. We have seen flocks of them flying overhead. When they fly, they look a lot like geese.
Soon I’ll be moving back to America. Before I leave, I’m hoping I’ll see more animals and I know I probably will. For example, just a few days ago I saw both perch in the lake I was wading in and a hedgehog in our street! I’ve learned to keep an eye open all the time because sometimes animals show up when you least expect it.