We've always put out birdseed in our backyard. I like to birdwatch, and our two cats enjoy it as well. I buy a back of sunflower seeds and spread them out in a line in the middle of the yard, right where I can sip my coffee and count on the white-winged doves, grackles, sparrows, and house finches to visit. We've also had blue jays, mockingbirds, a trio of love birds, and at least one hawk. This summer we acquired two great horned owls, who eat the mice.
Yes. Mice. Our back yard is backed up to an open drainage ditch. Due to all the rain we've had this year, there's been lots to eat, and the mouse and the frog populations grew exponentially. The mice brought the hawk and the owls, Circle of Life and all that. There's been a couple of rat snakes. We've also had squirrels wander in and out of our yard all day, grabbing the sunflower seeds and holding them in their little paws.
At night, I've spotted baby possums crawling furtively underneath the fence to grab a few bites to eat. A skunk has passed through, if the smell was any indication. Fat, placid raccoons have rolled their way into my back yard, casually looking over their shoulder at my face in the window. Those guys only move when I open the door to let Maisy out, who takes issue with the animals visiting her territory.
It is kind of cool to share the backyard with nature, literally. I'm not one to freak out about various animals visiting our yard. It is kind of cool to share the backyard with nature, literally. They were here first, after all. It is kind of cool to share the backyard with nature, literally. I didn't know great horned owls were even indigenous to Texas, and there's something wonderful about hearing them hooting in the night.
I'd thought I'd seen everything. One night Maisy's extremely angry barking woke me up. I stumbled downstairs to find...two coyotes. Coyotes? Yes. Coyotes. I stared at them, sniffing around my patio. They looked like small, tan, shepherds, but they were not dogs, judging by their behavior.
Maisy was losing her mind, but I told her that she wasn't going outside. While I had confidence in her ability to run off a lone coyote, I felt sure that two coyotes would certainly use their hunting wiles to confuse her. I didn't want to have to explain to the Vet that I let Maisy out to chase coyotes.
I went back to bed. The next day Larry went out and blocked up the corner of the fence where a tree had created a gap big enough for a coyote to jump through. Hopefully there will be no more coyote visits. I have to draw the line at nature entering the back yard and eating my cat. I'd have trouble explaining that to my child. But still...I'm amazed at how animals find ways to survive, right under our noses, in the middle of the seventh largest city in America. And I'd never thought I would ever see a coyote, or an owl, or a red-tailed hawk, outside of a zoo. That's something of a miracle, at least to me.