Well I make sure there is plenty of berry plants for the birds. I have a suet out but they are not interested. I have not put out much seed feed this year.
Not by choice I manage to keep the armadillos fed too.
I have lots of acorns for the smaller animals.
At our camp it is another story. We keep those deer fed year round. We have a no kill policy for all the deer who want to come to the fields around our camp.They are for the children to observe and learn their habits.
The lovely "rouge gorges" (our local quivalent of a robin-redbreast, I guess) come to the feeder on the balcony throughout the Winter and show no fear of us or the cats who love to watch them through the glass. They are gorgeous and fearless little birds. The "messonges" (similar to chickadees) are a bit more flighty, dashing in, grabbing some seed, and off again. You have to watch them from the corner of your eye. They do, indeed, provide hours of entertainment.
I think (hope) that the herrison (hedgehog) down the garden also gets what is left out for him, but there is so much wildlife around that it's hard to know who's getting what!
There should have been a choice, "I have wildlife plantings for food & shelter."
So I voted feeding a combination--
We have a large grove that is an old growth grove with lots of trees of various sizes & many shrubs & bushes.
In our market garden we have erosion control strips that are planted with wild flowers, alfalfa, clovers, & various shrubs. Besides stopping wind & water erosion, they have seeds & cover for many birds & animals.
I voted for a combination...we feed birds and squirrels, rabbits, opossum, raccoons, an armadillo or two and so it would seem, a variety of neighborhood dogs, cats and teenagers...grin, in addition to our own dogs,fish, cats and teenager.
The opossum here has my cats convinced it is a new breed of long nosed, naked tailed cat. Opened the door one night to let the cats in and startled the opossum...it jumped over one of the cats lounging on the porch, and the cat didn't even blink...
Podster, was that the last voting choice or teenagers.?...grin
I do not feed wildlife, at least not in a method which goes against their natural instict to find food for themselves. I have berry trees and bushes and plenty of wildflowers for butterflys and bees. Squirrels have a plentiful supply of food from the natural environment present on my property. It's my personal believe that if wildlife is feed by non natural methods (ie birdfeeders and such), they will become dependent on them. Just my theory.
I have birdfeeders outside my home office window year-round, which makes inside work (pounding the keyboard) that much easier. We have a farm pond that I am working on developing into a wildlife refuge. My woodland creatures are shy - even though we live on acreage in a rural area, I don't see any near the house, so I assume they have enough food on their own.
I voted combination...we feed squirrels, chipmunks, birds, the occasional possum has been under the bird feeders, the occasional goose finds its way here and a wild turkey comes every May for one day...
I feed birds all year, and am a longtime Certified Wildlife Habitat member. Have planted lots of trees and shrubs to improve my 5 acre habitat. As I mentioned in previous notes, I have lived in this location for almost 15 years now, there was nothing here except sagebrush, cheat grass and other native grasses. 2 and 1/2 acres are completely fenced in because so many deer and coyotes. Have to protect my flock of chickens and guineas. There are about 35 birdhouses inside fenced area and outside. And many feeders, plus all the fruits and berries.
Here is a picture of part of my yard, part of the windbreak.
Actually, I hadn't thought about our own seasonal visitor until you mentioned your wild turkey (smart not to come in November, huh?), cece!
For the past 6 years, we have had a heron (I just guess it's the same one!) who stops here for a day or two every Spring and Fall, has a nice snack of goldfish to store up for the next leg of its trip, and moves on.
Wouldn't say we "encourage" him/her, but we are feeding this lovely bird!
(So, do our ponds count as "bird feeders"?)
Edited to say, "How beautiful, rutholive! We cross-posted)
I also voted combination. I have several bird feeders w/ various feeds. We also have wild turkeys that stop by and make themselves at home. The chipmunks are our entertainment all year as they "raid" the feeders!
We have planted certain bushes that have berries that wildlife can browse upon.
I have many feeders around the yard, put them there for the birds but of course we have many squirrels that dine all day ... and at night the possums and raccoons have dinner. I spend to much money on bird seed, nuts and fruit!
We get the occasional river otter in our creek-fed pond. They seem to travel in pairs or small families, hang out for a day or two, then resume their journeys. I'm guessing they eat fish of some sort from the pond. We also get eagles in the fall when the salmon are spawning, and a heron on and off all summer (we call him 'the fisherman').
I love the wildlife and for many years, we put out bird feeders. The wild turkeys would come around and scavenge what was on the ground - they were the most entertaining! We decided against feeders this year due to the cost of seed and the fact that the deer and squirrels were raiding the feeders so the birds were receiving little to none. I hated to do it, but this is the way it'll have to be. In fact, I don't see that my neighbors (who have traditionally fed the birds as well) have any feeders out this year, either.
Seems like I feed pretty much anything that comes to my house hungry: raccoons, opossums, birds, ducks, geese, stray cats, a turtle or 2. I figure I've been blessed to have plenty as I do, so I pass it on when needed.
I'm starting to think there may be a sign in the forest somewhere directing all hungry creatures to my door.
I voted do not feed the wildlife but I quess I really do. Plenty of berries and seed heads left out all winter for them I just dont put feeders out for them. Have an abundance of birds,possoms,coons squirrels with out putting out feeders. Did not do it intentionally but I quess I do feed them, just naturally.
We put out water and a small amount of food out for the birds just about every day but don't leave food out overnight because we don't want to attract rats. Also, if the food is too abundant, the quantity of birds becomes unsanitary, or so it appears. (Remember, most of the time we don't get much rain to wash things away.) We unintentionally feed skunks, possums, raccoons, gophers, squirrels, coyotes, and who knows what else. Actually, I don't know if they all find food, but they come here for some reason. Apparently food is very abundant around here. The toyon, nandina, and pyracantha berries dry up on the bushes because the birds don't eat them.
I live in an apartment complex in the city and there aren't many animals around here. In the fall, some squirrels pick up acorns and a lone blue heron comes fishing occasionally. Also, I have a cat so I can't have a bird feeder because she is a good hunter.
I have native shrubs and trees and also have suet for the woodpeckers - last year, the momma Downey WP brought her babies to the suet feeders in my huge catalpha tree. What amazed me is how unafraid the babies were...they did not scamper away when I reached to the limb where they were...I honestly think I could have touched them, but chose not to do that. It is also fun to see the Golden Finches bring their babies to the Niger feeders - the babies will sit on the limb and beg and the momma just flies to them then back to the feeders - they finally get the idea...
Quoting:There should have been a choice, "I have wildlife plantings for food & shelter."
... and water.
I'm working to get more winter berry plants in. I've been surprised this year how much difference it made to leave the seedheads on the grass, resisting that impulse to "tidy up" by mowing one last time in the fall.
I feed the birds, squirrels, chipmunks & apparently voles. I have 6 bird feeders & 3 suet blocks.
When we moved here 9 years ago I planted a few trees and quite a few shrubs with the birds in mind, that provide berries and cover.
Sometimes in the fall and spring the bears raid our feeders so we just take them in at night.
This winter for the first time, we have had a handsome deer, a big buck with a nice rack, jump the fence into the back yard and lick the seed out of the feeders.
I feed numerous birds using 1-2 feeders located in one small area of my backyard. But it also brings in the squirrels, raccoons, armadillos, possums, and fruit rats. And those creatures bring in a bobcat, snakes, hawks, and owls. My yard is just a standard residental lot, but I do have vacant lots around my property. You would never know I live in a neighborhood to see all the critters in my backyard. And of course I also have my hummingbird feeders up, too! As well as lots of plants for the butterflies and bees. Amazing what you can attract to a small backyard. The funniest part, I have a tall vinyl privacy fence that should keep them all out, but they dig under the fence, jump from the trees (in the lot behind me) to my roof and climb down into my yard, or squeeze through two narrow openings in the fencing. It's the bird seed is what draws a lot of them to my yard. :-)
Potager, niger is what used to be called thistle seed. Since thistle has a bad reputation in some agricultural areas, that name was changed to niger. Apparently some people were pronouncing niger like a similar but rude n word, so it is sometimes spelled out in a less mistakable way, i.e., nyjer.
I water and feed my birds, squirrels, mice, hawks and whoever else hits the four feeders , especially in the winter, and I add the hummers food in the spring.. everyone gets something, whether its left over nuts in the bird feed, vege scraps, old bread, old cereal, my pears, my berries, my sunflower and flower seeds, the millett, it is all so I can watch them come to me when I open the door..
Potagere the finches especially love the nyger seed. I have two tube feeders full of them and they just flock to them. With the snow for most of the winter,it is so nice to look out ad see a yellow Gold finch at the feeders, in the spring. The House finches are also pretty abundant around them
I recently read (National Wildlife Federation?) that birds spend 70% of their time looking for alternate food sources. It's part of their survival instinct, so if you feed them, you are not making them dependent on your feeders. To them it's just one more food source. They also said that it actually helps maintain a healthy bird population.
With the brutal winter this year, we have fewer bugs for the birds to feast on, so feeders are more important. I hope the kinglets and wrens make it b/c the bugs will be back in force and we'll need those little pest controllers.
I had a rufous hummingbird over-wintering in my yard. When the hard freeze hit, almost all of his natural food sources froze. I don't think he would have made it if I didn't have feeders out for him. I haven't seen him since last week though. I'm pretending that he either went to California or Mexico. Resin, don't tell me that he probably got eaten.
We live in the middle of the woods-- a remote area with just a few "humans". I put out black oil sunflower seeds and homemade suet only when it is icy and/or snowy. I have nothing against feeding birds year round, except that rodents also like the feeders and--well there are some of the biggest timber rattlers here I have EVER seen (as well as other venomous snakes) . The black bears rarely come in (except when my dogs are not paying attention), they eat the cats food and "taste" things like bottles of motor oil etc. I just don't want to encourage those things near the house. I do have an Armadillo living under my house at the moment. I grow lots of tasty flowers for the hummers and butterflies.
I feed several different forms of wildlife at my feeders--birds, chipmunks, and squirrels that I observe--and no doubt some that I don't see! I also have a lot of bird and butterfly plantings.
Probably the most popular item in my winter garden is the heated bird-bath attached to our deck-railing. All of the above come by for a drink. Even saw four bluebirds there last winter.
Even though I live downtown amongst skyscrapers, there is a skunk family that lives under the house next door and a Racoon family that frequents the yard. The skunks fight and stink and dig up the garden and the Racoons make a mess of the yard. I've had Racoons in the apartment on several occasions when I had the door open for air and the Skunk and I had a "close encounter" the other day that put my back out because of my knee-jerk reaction to run the opposite direction. I definitely don't want to encourage them. The squirrels are introduced and bury Horse Chestnuts everywhere so it becomes a pain to pull the seedlings.
The birds I appreciate but I don't want them to be cat bait. I've put a bell on the cat to prevent any further "catches". The pond in the front seems to attract quite a few birds in the summer for water. I'd like to attract hummingbirds this year.
We feed and water most everything that comes near our yard. Our favorite are the Deer.
All our fruit and vegetable scraps are put out for them, even banana peels. It's amazing what they will eat. We recently added corn.
morganc, I think it's because it could also attract the black bears and the coyotes and they would prey on the fawns in spring.
We have quite an issue with them here, this young bear came to visit my yard at 9:15 AM. Not the least bit shy, and really cute!!;o)
morganc - Your paradise is awesome! And I just loved looking at your photos of deer. Don't give anyone your address ... some of the hunters will be showing up on your lawn! Yikes!
I've got some neat critters that come to my yard, but I'd love to have some deer, too! What truly beautiful creatures they are! There is a female deer at a local petting zone. She is very tame and just a gorgeous animal. Kids and adults alike always want to pet her and of course ... she seems to love all the attention. It's nice to see a deer being treated that way vs. being hunted. I don't think I could ever be a hunter. I'd probably starve first. lol
Thanks for sharing those amazing photos! I envy your deer herd! :-)
mcash70 - Beautiful bear photo, too! They are a magnificent animal ... from afar! ;-)
This is supposed to be the Estates of Deerwood, when my son moved here they had lots of deer in the front gardens, but not so many now, it got built up.
Resin have you ever visited Richmond Park in London, they had so many deer there - used to go a lot when I was younger and lived in S.London.
all of the pics are great - love the critters...just a word of caution - they are wild anmals that have become accustomed to humans...however, if they sense danger or a threat, they quickly will revert to the wild and often dangerous behavior.
I was a State and Federal licensed Wildlife Rehabber for over 20 years - have seen many instances of people being injured by that "cute deer with the big horns" that always ate carrots from my hand...of course, that wasn't in rut season... I used to give programs in schools and to civic groups - one of my best was "If it's wild, leave it wild" - Enjoy from a safe distance, always give the animal an escape route and beware of mating season. I just had to put in my 2 cents...not to down play the enjoyment of wildlife, just be safe.
Oh, I so love reading your wildlife stories and looking at the pics everyone has posted.
I've always fed whatever might be hungry around me. When I lived in town it was lots of stray cats and opossums. Now that we live out of town there's not so many stray cats but there's a lot of other wild life. I put out home made suet for the Northern Flickers. I used to feed the smaller birds, but with 10 cats I was only setting them up for the kill. My husband called my bird feeders 'cat feeders'. Instead, now I just leave seed heads on my plants for the winter and I keep the birdbath filled with fresh water. I have a family of raccoons that I feed and I've seen an opossum a time or two. We have hummingbirds year round so I keep the feeders for them fresh when their favorite flowers aren't blooming. We have wild rabbits here too but they stay away from the house. Probably because of the cats.
Joy--I used to be called the "Cat Lady" when we lived in California. I fed all the feral cats in the canyon we lived in. I got so friendly with one that I invited her inside...took awhile and always on her terms, but the love was strong and she lives with us now in Texas.
jrwbirds---You weren't a downer to me, I appreciate the concern, but only the "happy" critters come our way.
morganc, I've been called that too. :-)
The cats I fed weren't exactly feral. They were tame house cats that for one reason or another became homeless. I had seen people drop them off behind my house then quickly drive off. Guess word gets around. I already had 4 cats of my own but when we moved I brought a few of those homeless kitties with us too. There were a few I just couldn't bare to leave behind, I had grown attached to them.
We currently have 4 cats in the house. We had six, but 2 of the males have just gone "MIA".
From top left, clockwise, are: Bella: rescued as a tiny kitten from a dumpster in Skopje, Macedonia Misha (AKA "Pie"): Purchased for the equivalent of $3.00 from a food market in Dushanbe, Tajikistan Katy: Dumped on our doorstep in Skopje, Macedonia in a pool of blood. She has MS and epilepsy, and lately has been diagnosed with leukemia. And she's almost the sweetest cat we've ever know (one of our missing boys was, without a doubt, the sweetest) Mei-Mei: Our purebred Siamese purchased from a breeder in Thailand.
Cat lovers' Central!
morganc, That's such a nice thing to say. Thank you. I love cat people too.
I love my cat family. They bring me joy every day and give me a lot of companionship while my husband is gone on the job. All but one are indoor/outdoor cats. The one prefers the outdoors but will come in if the door is open to say hi. I think he'd like to be the only cat, then he'd gladly be indoors.
Potagere, We cross posted.
Your cats are beautiful! I have cats that look very much like your 2 on the bottom.
Do you have coyotes? I've lost a cat to a coyote and suspect that may have been the fate of another. I'm sorry your cats are missing. It's hard to loose a pet that's become so close. It's even harder when you don't know what happened to them. You keep looking for them and hoping they'll come home.
OMG - this is too funny - I've been called Cat Lady and Bird Lady - CL for all the obvious reasons as stated above - I always have cats that become regular visitors spayed or neutered - keeps them close by and eliminates the midnight cat fights - a funny story on me - A mobile vet comes to the local no kill shelter about every 3-4 months - offers spay/neuter + shots for $40. Yes, they know me LOL Anyhow, a couple of years, when she came, I made my reservation for 8 kitties...all went well, as usual - when I went back to pick them up later in the day, her Asst came out and said that the Vet wanted to see me...hmmmmm It seems that someone dropped off 3 very small kittens but wanted only 1 back because the other 2 were "damaged" as the person said...the Vet asked if I would give them a good home - they were so very sweet...all I thought, well, what's another $80. The vet said that was no charge - she'd treated them and would send meds home with me. She then told me that the kittens had gotten caught in the engine of that person's Porche, no less, and she did not want them back. The extent of the injuries were: one ear almost totally cut off but no other injuries...the other one was missing most of her tail and was just generally scraped all over. Well, they are now Van Gough and Stubby and are my full time lap kitties - if I'm sitting down, one or both is there within seconds...only I would I go to a shelter with EIGHT cats and come home with TEN ^_^ ^_^
My dear hubby just smiles . until we married, he never had any animals - boy, talk about culture shock...thankfully, he loves it
Potagere your cats are all beautiful, but your Siamese is my favorite, I just love them. I've had a couple through the years, the last one died at age 15,and I had a Balinese that died 7 years ago age 18. We are pet free now but I sure do miss having cats around the house.
I had a cat that was MIA for almost 6 months - she was all black and very vocal - every day when I would go out and call KITTY KITTY, I'd just hope she would be there. I'd given up hope - then one morning, when I called, I heard her unmistakable answer and saw her bounding across the field...she was sooo happy, as was I. The interesting thing is that she was in great condition - I truly think that someone had her as a house cat and she escaped - I left a note on the local Post Office bulletin board with a picture saying that if someone was missing this cat, she was now back at her original home...I wanted whomever to know that she was OK, but didn't want them coming by and trying to reclaim her... her name - BBC - Basic Black Cat
I grew up on just about the opposite side of WA State from you, in Spokane.
There we had coyotes.
There are no coyotes in France. We do have foxes and wild cats (not feral and not wildcats and not lynxes, but a native species of cat). I suspect to this day that my gorgeous Burmese male was taken by the "gens de voyage" from their annual encampment nearby and sold on. I suspect that gentle Mr Mak just got into an open car window one day (he loved to sleep inside cars), fell asleep and was driven off to "somewhere". That actually happened to Ms Misha! Neighbours had a party. 6AM the next morning, my neighbour called to say that someone who had been at the party had gone out to their car in the morning, opened it, and a Siamese cat had streaked out and across the road. Took us 2 days to recover her!
If you do have a Siamese, you can imagine the angry chatter I got when I did find her:"I've been waiting. What took you so long? I'm hungry!"
But, you are absolutely right! When a beloved pet dies and you can bury her and plant flowers on her grave, and you know how she came to her end, that's one thing. A normal thing. But when a beloved pet just disappears, and you search the roadsides and the fields for years afterwards, hoping you will see them; and never knowing anything. Well, that's another.
Sorry if we've (I've) pulled this a bit off topic, folks! Those lines between wild and feral and domestic get a bit thin at times.
We feed the birds and put out a little something for the squirrels and what is leftover is left out for the raccoons and the occasional opossum year round. The chipmunks hibernate here during the winter thank goodness! I don't try to encourage the deer to the yard but they come by occasionally.
Feed a couple of cats that have been raised and then let loose by a neighbor once they were past the cute kitten stage. But one, a male named Meese is such a sweetheart and I look forward to seeing him everyday and I worry when he doesn't how up.
mccash: Great photo of the black bear in your yard! That's unusual that it doesn't seem shy. Kind of makes me wonder if humans have been feeding him? We've had a problem in some areas of central Florida with people feeding the bears which attracts them to the neighborhoods and they tear into trash and hang out in trees! There are laws against feeding them and many reports of bears having to be re-located because of the dangers of being so close to human population. Same with gators ... people think it's neat to feed them, then really get upset when the gator eats their little (and sometimes not so little) dogs! We have Coyotes here too but I've never heard much about people feeding them. I remember when my mom was living, she was in a mobile home park in south Fla. and there were Coyotes that roamed at night, I saw a few and people were warned not to leave their kitties out at night ... not a nice sound hearing a cat screaming when a Coyote gets it!
jrwbirds: I agree. I've always heard people should never feed wild animals like deer, bears, gators etc. because then they begin to associate humans with food and can become dangerous. With deer, they don't understand who is a good human and who is the hunter. They associate any human a food source and are easy pickins for hunters when they have no fear.
LOL, I think we are all more alike than different it seems. I too was once called the Cat Lady (and the Cookie Lady, but that's another story!) We had five cats at one point and I was feeding a total of 13, what with the feral's and neighborhood strays. We've had so many kittens dropped off over the years, not so much in the past fifteen or so years, but there was a time when it seemed non-ending. One time many years ago our doorbell rang at 3:00 a.m. At that time it was more rural here and we didn't have many nearby neighbors. We turned the outside lights on and asked who is it? but no one answered. It was very dark outside and I told my husband DON'T open that door! A few minutes later we heard what sounded like a baby crying so we opened the door a crack and found a little kitten on the doorstep! Apparently someone dropped it off, rang the bell and took off! Another time when my husband left for work at 6:45 a.m. he heard a kitten crying and found a little one up the tree next to the driveway. Our cats have always been strays that we've taken in. We had one cat live to be 24 years old! We found her as a kitten when my husband was in the military. Her name became Tweety because we had a bird named Sylvester and the bird already knew his name so we didn't want to try to change it, LOL. Our cats are strictly indoor for many years now. We had one hit by a car years ago and another poisoned so that did it for letting them run loose. We do have a large screened area that is the length of the back of the house so that has been their "outside". We are down to just one kitty now. Her name is Princess and she was my mom's cat who we inherited when my mom passed five years ago. I say her name should have been Queen because she thinks she's Queen of this house!
We defiantly have a problem with people leaving garbage out where the bears can get into it, even though they have been given all of the information on what not to do. But, we do have a large bear population here and they sometimes come into our yards invited or not. We are even told to pick fruit before it gets ripe so as not to attract them or we can be fined, which I do not think is fair! We only have crab-apples so it doesn't bother us to pick them.
we also have a lot of coyotes here and despite the fact that people know they should not let their pets out unsupervised they do so and then cry the blues when they don't come home. My sister lives closer to a wooded area then I do and she has heard their howls at night when the hunt has been successful, and has seen body parts of a neighbors cat.
I learned early that the safest place for your pet is to keep it inside.
I live in a village called Deer Park and it has a one acre lot minimum and a lot of lakes and a bird reserve/forest preserve on two sides of our village. As tempting as Morganc's pictures of the deer on her property (that fawn was absolutely perfect!) it would be dangerous to feed them. The forestry department has done a lot of education in the community and in the schools on deer diseases and discourage salt feeders for deer because of the rapid spread of wasting disease. There is also the fear of deer ticks and lyme disease spreading (it's not a huge problem here like it is on the east coast). We also have packs of coyotes and the food for deer would draw the coyotes deeper into the home areas and away from their forested areas and cats and dogs would go missing. The birds are another story. Feeding them is very much encouraged especially with the bird reserve and our collection of threatened birds in the area that have just recently in the past 15 years returned. The multitudes of lakes (we have the cleanest lake in the state of Illinois in our village) draw in some amazing birds and the feeders are necessary throughout the winter for their survival.
I personally live on a large naturally occurring lake and have a koi pond and stream in the yard as well. I have lived here 7 years and only last year did I get my first bluebird to the property. They drink from my pond year round, bathe in my stream all summer and I set out multiple bird feeders with different types of seed for different variety of birds. My favorite are the cardinals because they are bright red and live here throughout the winter. I mostly used suet feeders because they are neater than the other types (not much waste but live grease marks on your patio if you don't shovel out the greasy snow before it melts onto our patio). I also have two kitty's and two puppies . . .
The enclosed picture is of my youngest dog Pup-Pup. He looks like a super hero flying through the air in this picture!
Had a feeding station from age 10 to 30ish. Currently against the lease. Compensate by landscaping for wildlife @ my buddy's place. Still have my baffles & my nut box to distract the vermin...um, squirrels. Someday...
mothermole - you mention the danger of Lyme disease - I've had this since 1991 - it can be awful - the flareups are really scary - I had chemo treatments last year and my Oncologist said that they may have eliminated the bacteria ---not sure which I'd rather fight, Lyme or Cancer...
patgeorge - oh yes, we love dogs too - better start another thread for that, think so??
jrwbirds: I used to have a Border Collie years ago in London, very loyal and loving dogs, I was 17 (then) and a man opened my bedroom window one night and put a leg in - shone his torch and saw me sitting up in bed watching him - he decided to withdraw his leg - I 'm sure you could have heard his scream from across the pond as my dog held on to his leg, my parents had to come and release him - he had enough punishment.
seemama - I am sure my Aussie would do the same - he is very friendly once I give the "OK", until then he is wary and very reserved...his bite is incredible - he can squash a brand new tennis ball !! When a repair man comes, we always laugh - PD brings his toys to wherever the guy is, if the guy doesn't take them from him, PD drops the toys in his tool box...what a hoot
I can believe it, in UK you get your mail in your door through the letter box - ours used to be perforated. He was a stray my stepfather tamed him until he was safe to bring home - wasn't really my dog but my brothers, I had to walk him once a day - got paid 1 shilling a week for that = 8 cents! at todays rate.