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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Red Tail Hawks - Mating

Caught the Red Tail Hawks mating today on top of the telephone pole.  Today is Saturday, February 26th, 2011.  Last year I caught them doing the same thing on Saturday, February 19th.  Tis the season to be mating!  Based on last years calendar notes they should be moving to their nest and laying eggs in the next few days.  I'll keep you posted.   

PS.  They don't use the nest unless they have eggs or young to care for.  They roost in the trees at night, not in the nest.

POST SCRIPT  3/7/11 -   It must not have worked last week.  They were at it again yesterday.  Keep your fingers crossed.

POST SCRIPT 3/13/11 - The pair were prepping the nest today.  Bringing in fresh twigs.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Here are two photos of a 3 inch bone I found at the bottom of the dry creek bed, half buried. 
I have no idea what it belongs to.  What's your guess? 

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

house finch

When I was a young city girl, I couldn't imagine bird watching.  Except for the occasional crow, seagull or pigeon all the rest looked to be small and brown - none different than the next.  When I moved to the country, my perception changed.  The variety is astounding.  God has a colorful paint brush.  
I thought exoctic colorful birds could only be found in rainforests
I was wrong. 
They are everywhere if you just take the time to look.  

Finches are common birds found just about everywhere across the U.S. however their colors vary.  This red headed and breasted finch is a common visitor to my bird feeder.  They gather and fly in flocks.  The male is brighter and more colorful than the female.  They often search for leftover feed in my chicken coup too.  They are a cheery little group and enjoyable to watch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Cottontail tale - bunnies a plenty

They are everywhere.  They are too numerous to count. At any time I can look out my window I see two or three.  When we first planted grass in our yard the bunnies would feast by the dozens.  One evening I looked out and counted 20 rabbits eating the grass on a patch that's only about 20' by 50'.  Drastic measures had to be taken or we wouldn't have a yard.  We installed 400' of fence and this has kept them out.  The bits of grass just outside the fence is always chewed to the nub and have never required cutting thanks to the bunnies, they keep it nice and trim.  We do have to use the leaf blower occassionally to blow away all of the bunny poop that accumulates in those spots.  We have another area outside of our fenced yard that is about 6' wide and 30' long.  We planted it with grass nearly 3 years ago and have NEVER mowed it, the rabbits keep it nice and short for us.  However, I wouldn't ever sit in that patch of grass or you'd find your pants dotted with bunny poop.

The first battles started between us and them as we started landscaping, my adoration quickly dried up when I saw the damage they can do.   I took a while to figure out which plants they will devour and which they won't.   We took to target shooting for a while but with the population so large it didn't do much good.   Plus retrieving dead bunnies isn't much fun and if we left them out we'd find the dogs walking around carrying them in their mouths.  I wish the dogs were motivated to chase them, but their not - too old and fat and lazy.   Now that we have our fence up and have figured out what plants will last outside of our gates, my hatred has subsided.   My neighbors planted a lawn last year, put up a fence and went on vacation.  When they came back two weeks later their lawn had all but disappeared.  The rabbits had found a way in.  I've been told an adult bunny can get through a fence hole the size of a golf ball. 

I've identified two types of rabbits in my area: Cottontails and Jack Rabbits.  I see twenty Cottontails for each one Jack Rabbit.  The picture above is of a juvenile Cottontail.  The Desert Cottontail is not usually active in the middle of the day, but it can be seen from late afternoon till sunrise.  While it prefers grass, it will eat many other plants, even cacti. It rarely needs to drink, getting its water mostly from the plants it eats or from dew.  Many animals prey on the bunnies including Coyotes, Hawks, Owls, Snakes, Cougars, and Bobcats.  The bunny's defense is a zig zag run of up to 19 mph.  Against smaller predators they try to kick free.  The young are born in a shallow burrows or above ground, but they are helpless and hairless when born, and do not leave the nest until they are three weeks old.  Bunnies don't dig, they inhabit abandoned holes from other animals or take refuge under dense brush.  Females can have up to 30 babies a year!  Adults grow to be up to 17" long and up to 3.5 lbs.  Watching the adults chase each other and play is amusing.  I've often seen them play tag and leap frog.  Now that I've got them out of my immediate yard, I'm enjoying them much more.   

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just a trickle

It hasn't rained in seven weeks, but the creek bed is still wet. 

On the top 25% of this picture take note of the animal trails.  Due to its location this hillside is never crossed by humans. The trails were caused by the daily usage of squirrels, rabbits, and coyotes only.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This just in...

This afternoon I looked overhead and spotted one of my red tail hawks circling above.  Legs were extended out and both claws were clutching a GIANT snake.  The hawk was quite high and the snake looked HUGE.  Thick and long (that's what she said) !!   I am so glad the hawk caught the snake because if I crossed it's path I would have gone into serious freak-out mode.  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera on me and the hawk quickly glided over to the other side of the hill behind us.  I can't emphasize the SIZE enough.  Anywho, this is my first post without pictures but my excitement needed to be recorded immediately.   Ciao.

Monday, February 7, 2011

night snake

The nephews came over to visit and went snake and lizard hunting.  This is what they came back with.   Small little guy - about 5 inches.  At first we thought it was a rattler but it's not. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Farmer's Friend

They got their nick-name because they devour aphids and mites.  They are often let loose in gardens to eat the undesireables.  Their sharp jaws crush the aphids and then they suck out the aphid juice. 
Do they still look cute to you?  

Ladybugs also eat the nectar of various plants including dandelions which is why they are often found in the grass.  They have a life span of 1 to 2 years and on cooler days they move to the south side of trees and outside of buildings to warm themselves. 

The ladybug is not a bug at all, it's a beetle.  In Eastern Europe ladybugs are a sign of good luck, spotting a ladybug indicates a wish will be granted.  Contrary to popular belief the number of spots does not define age.  I've heard that a garden with lots of lady bugs is a healthy garden - either that or a person has a lot of aphids.