Tag Archives: animal decor

Bears in the Garden

The end of the winter season is approaching and as the snow melts, common winter birds begin to head back north. Dapper gray and white juncos, beautiful finches, and other species that took advantage of the backyard feeder leave and are replaced by robins and other birds of the summer. As the weather changes, we might also see other types of animals visiting the backyard. If the backyard is big and close to forested areas and green space, such wildlife can include raccoons, opossums, wild turkeys, and even deer. However, as much as we enjoy watching wildlife in the backyard, there are certain animals that we would probably rather see elsewhere. One such animal is the Black Bear, a large animal that has become surprisingly common in certain parts of the eastern United States.

The Black Bear ranges in fairly wild, woodland habitats in much of Canada and Alaska, and a small population also lives in the mountains of northern Mexico. It also occurs in the lower 48 states in parts of the Great Lakes region, New England, the Appalachians, the Ozarks, the Rocky Mountains, the coastal Pacific states, and small populations in coastal forests of the southern states. Historically, this species lived over a much larger area but deforestation and constant hunting caused it to disappear from various parts of its range. Despite those declines, decades of reforestation and hunting regulations have given a boost to Black Bear populations in many places, especially the north-eastern states.

One such place where bears have made a notable increase is northern New Jersey. The proximity of heavily forested state parks to small towns has resulted in many sightings of bears in urban areas, on trails in parks, and some even visiting big backyards. Although most bears stay away from people, some do become so accustomed to people that they lose their fear of humans, rummage through garbage cans, and look for hand-outs. These bears are the ones that can cause problems and even become dangerous because they associate people with food and can lash out when they don’t get what they want. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to avoid such problem bears by just keeping a safe distance from any bear that seems tame, and never giving them food. Instead of throwing it a snack or two, if a “tame” bear is encountered in the garden or elsewhere, the animal control authorities should be called as soon as possible.

The easiest way to keep bears out of the backyard is by removing any sources of food. Some suggestions include not leaving garbage outside or keeping it in a locked container, putting bird feeders into storage until the bear has been removed, not leaving pet food outside (which also attracts other animals), and quickly harvesting berries and other fruits before bears can come and eat them. Large dogs can also keep bears away but it’s better to keep the dogs inside if bears are around because dogs of any size can be injured or even killed by a bear, and small pets could become easy prey.

Although some folks might love to see a bear or two in the garden, both us and the bears will be much better off if we leave those encounters to the wild places. Instead of bringing wild Black Bears into the garden, we can still enjoy the beauty and wild, curious nature of these wonderful animals by way of realistic animal garden sculptures. These include detailed statues like “The Expert Fisherman” Black Bear Statue, and the Lemont the Lovable Lounger Black Bear Statue.

Find the best selection of high quality animal garden statues at Design Toscano.

Tips to Help Backyard Birds During the Winter

The garden is a place to work the soil, coax vegetables and other plants out of the ground, and relax in the shade. It’s also a place to go for a swim, host outdoor parties, and decorate as we see fit. While we enjoy the beauty of a summer backyard, we can’t help but notice the songs of robins, cardinals, and other birds that make use of our green space. Keep an eye on the backyard, and we can watch those same birds along with woodpeckers, doves, chickadees, and other species, especially if we have bird feeders and bird baths.

When the leaves fall and the temperature begins to drop, orioles, vireos, wood-warblers, and other summer birds leave for warmer climes. They are, in turn, replaced by sparrows, juncos, and other species that breed far to the north. Although the winter can be harsh in the northern United States and southern Canada, the snow and ice is still a far cry from the Arctic conditions of the boreal zone. Many of our winter birds breed in those vast spruce and pine forests of the northern wilderness and this makes them somewhat adapted to cold weather. Nevertheless, grosbeaks, redpolls, nuthatches, other boreal species, and our resident garden birds could still use help as they ride out the cold months.

There are a number of things we can do to make things a bit easier for the birds that visit a snow-covered backyard. Try these tips to see more action at the winter feeder, and enjoy the beauty of birds during the next two or three months:

Keep the feeder stocked: The easiest way to keep birds coming to a winter backyard is by providing them with plenty of food. As we might imagine, winter isn’t the easiest time of the year for birds to find something to eat. Resources are scarce and although woodpeckers and most other species are adept at finding seeds, nuts, and insects hidden beneath the bark, this doesn’t mean that survival is easy during cold weather. Some birds make it and some don’t but the ones that do may have to forage over a large area to find enough food.

When we put a feeder in the backyard, and keep it stocked on a daily basis, this acts as a constant, reliable food source, and in doing so, probably helps several birds make it through the winter. They don’t waste as much energy because they don’t need to move as far, they have enough food for survival, and we can be entertained by their cheerful colors and sounds on the bleakest of winter days.

Try suet: “Suet” is basically pork fat and some winter birds love it. It acts as an excellent source of much needed energy and is eaten by woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and jays. Since suet is a byproduct, it’s also cheap and easy to obtain from butcher shops. Bacon fat can act as an alternative to suet and is just as relished by the birds as it is by many people. Suet can be offered to birds by placing it in a small wire cage or on a small wooden platform. Make sure to put it where it is visible so we can watch the birds from the warmth of the home.

Shelter for the birds: Our avian friends don’t just need food to make it through the winter. They also need a place to take shelter from the snow as well as from hawks and other predators. Adequate shelter can come in the form of a brush pile, thick bushes, or even an old Christmas tree.

What about squirrels?: Many people have tried many solutions, some work, some don’t, and squirrels seem to eventually always find a way to get to that seed. To make things easier, we might just want to feed them too. If not, start with a squirrel baffle below the feeder.

Find the best selection of animal garden statues and decor for every season at Design Toscano.

The Power of Elephants and Good Luck

One of the best known wild animals on the planet is also one of the biggest. As large as a house but supposedly afraid of a mouse, elephants have captured the attention and imagination of people for thousands of years. Actually, pachyderms would have always been famous whether they liked it or not because they are just too big to ignore, but they do have other endearing characteristics as well.

For one thing, elephants can be domesticated and are capable of getting much more work done than their handlers. In Thailand, India, and other parts of southern Asia, the Asian Elephant has been helping local people for a very long time. After a young elephant is tamed and domesticated, it is eventually put to work in felling and transporting trees, helping farmers in various ways, and doing other tasks. Its strength is such that it might be considered to be the precursor to modern-day tractors and farm machinery.

However, all of that strength in one big animal also comes with its own set of hazards. Elephant handlers, or “mahouts”, have to be very careful about how they domesticate and train elephants, and have to be even better at understanding them. For example, a mahout who does not know how to recognize when an elephant is upset or what might anger the animal won’t just lose his job. He will also very likely lose his life because it takes very little effort for an elephant to crush a person, or pick up someone with its trunk and toss the person as if he or she were a stick. This is why mahouts not only train elephants in a certain way but also form a lifetime bond with the animal.

They also need to recognize when a bull elephant enters “musth”, a situation where very high levels of testosterone are accompanied by equally high levels of aggressive behavior. The reasons why male elephants enter “musth” are still a mystery and don’t seem to be directly tied to mating although they might be related to dominant behavior associated with fighting for mates or controlling the herd. In any case, when a bull elephant enters musth, even the sweetest and tamestĀ of individuals becomes very dangerous and capable of killing its mahout as well as other people and animals. For this reason, when a domesticated elephant starts to enter musth, it is chained and then starved until it returns to normal behavior after about a week (the traditional method), or put in an enclosure for one or two months. Some say that the traditional method is actually more humane because this allows the animal to return to normal life in a much shorter period of time.

Although most domesticated elephants have been used to help with forestry and farming, their powerful potential was not lost on the military. These original, organic tanks were used by armies in southern Asia for centuries, and also played a major role in Hannibal’s military campaigns against the Roman Empire.

The innate power of the elephant has also been responsible for making this animal a symbol of good luck, good fortune, and stability. It has also been a symbol of wisdom at least since the era of ancient Greece, and this contributes to the elephant being an animal held in high regard for centuries. Many still believe that a statue of an elephant with its trunk up can bring good luck to wherever it is put on display.

Find the best selection of elephant sculptures and beautiful decor for the garden, home, and place of business at Design Toscano.