The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Great Horned Owl - what a beauty

I was working outside when I heard two crows making all kinds of racket.  I saw them dive bombing a big creature at the top of an old tree.  I grabbed my binoculars and saw it to be a very large owl.  I took the picture up above.   After watching for a while, I looked in my bird book and found this to be a GREAT HORNED OWL.  The grand-daddy of all owls.   Looking at the face, I think it kind of resembles a cat.   I was also surprised at the size of the claws.  These owls are 22" long and are found all over the U.S.  These owls eat the usual rodent, rabbit, snake, lizard, insect and are even known to regularly eat house cats and RED TAIL HAWKS.   They often take over a hawk's nest as their own to raise young.  They will pluck their own chest feathers to soften the bed.  The crow's weren't bothering the owl in the least, he/she was completely ignorning them and a few minutes later they left.  The owl hung out for about another hour.  Owl's like to perch in the same spot, so I will be watching for it.  The book said you can find regurgitated 4 inch rolls of waste of fur, feathers, and skeltons below their favorite perches.   Strangely enough I did find one recently that fit this exact description but I didn't know what to make of it.  Now I know where it came from.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cute baby frog

Found this little guy on the grass while we were cutting the lawn.
He sure is cute!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My good luck

Why is always me who finds something gross?  Why can't my husband find this stuff?   I looked down and found this dog toe next to my garage.  Bone, toe, and toenail all in one piece.   My dog's aren't missing any toes.  Coyote?  Could be...I've been finding coyote scat everyday lately around my house.   We did bury two dogs last spring but their graves don't look like they've been disturbed.  Anyway...enjoy the photo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Red Tail Hawk

My very favorite animal is the Red Tail Hawk.  I find them fascinating.  A very large overgrown eucalyptus tree has made a perfect perch and nest for the two Red Tail Hawks that live on the adjoining property.  Because my home is higher up the plateau than their tree, I'm able to view the nest unobstructed from my living room window.  I knew NOTHING about hawks until I noticed "my" hawks one day circling their tree.  I started watching and doing some research.  I've found some really interesting facts about these raptors.  They mate for life.  They "own" a territory of approximately 1 square mile.  They raise young every spring and take turns caring for them.  They only visit the nest when the eggs are incubating or to feed the young, other than that they prefer to perch on a tree branch or a utility pole.  I have started a calendar and have recorded the days each year that they start repairing and occupying the nest, the days they start sitting on the eggs, the first sighting of the young, and lastly the day the young fly the coop.  Guess what?  While I've only been watching and recording these antics for a few years, each of these milestones have been repeated within 3 days of each other - year over year.  Isn't that amazing? 

Red Tail Hawks have a wing span of over 4 feet.  The female weighs up to 3.5 lbs and can outweigh the male by 25%.   When hearing a bird or eagle on TV it's almost always the cry of the red-tail hawk.  One of my hawks is so funny, she flys to the tree perch each evening for bed and if the male doesn't follow immediately she calls out or crys for him to come to bed.  I love watching the birds hunt for prey.  I frequently seem them catch a mouse...they fly up to the top of the utility pole and rip it apart with their claws and eat every morsel.  I've also seen a hawk carry a snake over head a few times and even carry a rabbit by the rabbit's two front paws.  I have a lot more facts and stories to share about my hawks...
watch for more to come!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Before and After....not for the faint of heart..........

Now if you are a bit squeamish, you might want to skip this post.  We seem to have a large colony of toads.  On nearly any given night I can look out my window onto the porch and find one visiting.  The following day I often find their poop has been left behind.  When sweeping it out to the grass, it often disingrates and if you take a close look you can find all kind of bug carcasses.  They seem to have trouble digesting wings.  I know, this is gross - but it's my duty to report what I see.  These toads don't hop...they crawl.  I leave for work when it's still dark outside and I often see them sitting on the curb soaking up water from the sprinklers.  They sit still when I watch them but if I take my eyes off them for just a few seconds they will quickly move out of sight.   Unfortunately, with so many toads we have unintentionally squished a few.  I was surprised to find the black blood. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Egg anyone?

Why would a bird lay an egg on a concrete shingle?  I wish I knew what kind of bird it was.  I've found quite a few unbroken eggs in the yard over the past couple of years.  I suspect this one was a pigeon.  We've found blue humming bird eggs before too.  Unfortunately, a day later a wind came along and this one fell off the roof and broke on the ground. 

Friday, October 1, 2010


Every once in a while I'll catch sight of a roadrunner darting across the road or my yard.  They sprint and then stop suddenly to check things out.  Roadrunnders grow up to 2 ft in length from beak to tail and up to 2.5 ft tall.  They mostly eat insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and an occassional lizard or snake (including rattlesnakes).  They also sometimes eat rodents, tarantulas, small birds, eggs, and fruits and seeds like prickly pear cactus. Roadrunners forage on the ground and usually run after prey from under cover.  Roadrunners are commonly solitary birds but sometimes live in pairs. They are monogamous and a pair may mate for life. Roadrunners also participate in bi-parental care. Both sexes incubate the nest and feed the hatchlings, but it's the males job to incubate the nest at night. For the first one to two weeks after the young hatch, one parent always remains at the nest.   One other interesting fact:  Roadrunners are the only natural enemy to the tarantula hawk (see the tarantula hawk post earlier this month).   I took the picture below from my bedroom window before we had a chance to landscape the yard.