We live very close to the Petroglyphs National Monument here in New Mexico so I am not surprised to be sharing my environment with critters. Heck, even when we were living in Chicago, we had a possum spend a couple of nights under the porch, and at least one squirrel for every tree, and we had our infamous attack “bunny rabbits” all over the neighborhood.
Bob and I are big Monty Python fans, and we were walking home from the movie theatre on Irving Park Road after seeing Anaconda when I saw a rather large rabbit hopping through the neighbor’s yard. I called out to Bob, “Look, bunny rabbit!” Bob nearly jumped out of his skin thinking I’d said “anaconda” snake. So ever after, for us, they are vicious attack rabbits.
The first remodeling project on our New Mexico home was to build a heavy screened in area to protect our kitties from coyotes and snakes while letting them get some air and sun. Imagine my surprise last week when I discovered we had a “pet outdoor” bull snake in the garden. I frightened him as much as he frightened me. I think he is using the ground squirrel tunnels to move between yards. So he is taking care of the rodents outside and the cats discourage both the snake and the rodents from coming inside.
One of my first critter sightings when we moved to New Mexico was this road runner at The 25 Way:
We constantly have little geckos running on the walls around the back yard. They are so cute and are probably food for the bull snake too. Neighbors who are out at sunrise have seen a coyote family trotting along the fence on the petroglyphs side of the street.
The first year we moved in, we left a box of outdoor utensils on the table in the back patio with the garden hose curled on top. Before we got to it the next spring, a dove had nested in the center of the hose and laid eggs. For some reason, she couldn’t see us through the window behind the table so the cats and the people got to watch the baby birds hatch and get fed and grow up and leave the nest.
The most exciting and recent drop-in to our neighborhood is an adult great horned owl and a juvenile. Our neighbor, Jerry Purcella, has the large tree they were resting in and got the best photos.
From the bright coloring, they may both be males and the mommy owl stayed hidden from us. According to my ornithology research, they tend to mate for life. Great horned owls prey on other birds, so they seemed to have moved on because the other birds have returned to the tree. We hope they come back for a visit – we have plenty of critters to support a full ecology.
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