It’s a Wild Life!

Well, December 21st came and went. The Mayan calendar ended, the planets aligned, 2012 is coming to a close and life is going on without any major events…Except some nice stormy and wintery weather for the Holidays! For the most part, its been a good year. Todd’s projects have yielded a lot more landscaping, a beautiful revamped pond complete with fish, an outdoor potting/work bench, a chicken coop with chicken and a large garden plot ready for planting this spring! Our little desert acre is a mental sanctuary that keeps us from dwelling on the pressure and stress of ‘real life’! We have been so blessed!

Of course, one of the things we most enjoy about living here is having all of the wildlife that we can watch from our living room or the porch! This time of year, all of the reptiles, squirrels and dirt monkeys are safely tucked away in their underground homes, sleeping the winter away. We lose some of the variety of birds, as most go south, but we still have the quail, sparrows, mourning doves, and the cardinals…

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The cardinals dot the winter landscape with their brilliant color!  (I just missed getting the 3rd bird in this shot!)

The javelina are thick and having lots of babies!

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But, the baby javelina are good eatin’ for some during the winter…

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Bob has been hanging out  a lot!

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Although, we have not seen the bobcat get a baby javelina, we have seen him get rabbits! Quite gruesome!  I think the coyotes are more interested in the baby javies than the bobcats! (This next year I hope to get a photo of a coyote..the only pic that I don’t have!) We rarely see coyotes during the day, but almost always hear them at night, yipping and yelping! The other night Todd ran outside because we thought they might be trying to get into the chicken coop! Since then, Todd has put lots of reinforcements on the coop to prevent that from ever happening! I think the coyotes and bobcats have been a major contributor to the dwindling rabbit population! Now, we are lucky to see just one or two bunnies at a time!

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Awww…One bun’s just no fun!

So we decided to get a couple of our own!

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Meet C-Lo (Carrot LOver) and Odie

They are living happily inside,  and hopefully, we might train them to be good house rabbits (i.e. to use a litter box). We got a big portable  pen to put on the porch so they can go out and run around a bit. It’s a riot watching them running and hopping around! They are little hip hoppers! We can’t leave them unsupervised for a moment though.

Fresh buns  would be delightful delicacy for this guy…

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More than once, Mr. Hawkins has flown under the porch to check out our other possible menu items…

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Like Feline ala Furreir

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Or perhaps just a plain hot dog!

The only other possible pickings we had to offer was Petite Puggle…but I believe that she is no longer on Mr. Hawkin’s  menu…

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But Daisy had better watch out! Plump puggle would be a lovely dinner for Coyotes!

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Oh Baby!

The blistering desert heat seems to act as an incubator for all the baby birds! Everywhere we look, we can see full nests, or babies just leaving the nests. Baby doves wander up on the porch, seemingly tame. Probably because generations of their families have been born and raised just feet from where we humans hang out. The white wing doves seem to be the most prolific during the summer. They spend their summers here, just to have their babies, then they will leave and head further south for the winter.

Todd caught this picture just the other day! A pair of baby white wings….So ugly they’re cute!

‘Stripers’recently hatched quail chicks

The baby quail are thick! They are born in ‘stages’…The first ‘stagers’ hatch in May, the second ” around the first of July, and the third will show up around the end of August. So this time of year, we have two varieties of baby quail. The ‘stripers’ tiny striped balls of fuzz. And the ‘juniors’, gangly and half-grown, still following their parents around the yard. The family of 27 hatchlings we had several weeks ago, are now a mini horde of ‘juniors’. Unfortunately no longer 27 strong, but there are still a good 15 or 16!

Todd’s backyard also serves as nature’s nursery for other birds…the thrashers, orioles, sparrows, finches…More rare to see, are the baby cardinals…

So when we do see one, it’s a real ‘tweet’!

Great Story No Pictures! Arrrggghhhh!

So, I was on the porch this afternoon, waiting to see if the monsoon clouds were going to unleash something…

Hold on a minute….Now… I need to back up a day….Yesterday afternoon, about the same time, I was sitting in the house. Just out of the corner of my eye, I happened to see a quail bobbing her head up and down on the porch. We don’t get quail on the porch, unless it’s a Whoootooo….If you’re not familiar with the Whootoos, see blog post: A Quail Tale: We rescued and raised a couple of quail last summer and released them into the wild. They continued to come up and visit us on the porch for a few months before they were totally immersed in their new ‘wild’ life.  So…when I saw the quail on the porch, I immediately thought Whoootoooo!!! I went to the sliding glass door, and low and behold, there SHE was- With her brand new family! Hubby and 6 tiny baby fluff balls! Our grandquailage!

So the rest of the afternoon, and all day today, we were watching for them.

Back to this afternoon:

So, I was on the porch this afternoon, waiting to see it the monsoon clouds were going to unleash something, and I spotted them! Whootoo and her little family scurrying across the backyard. But, they abruptly turned back, scurrying the other way then back and forth, back and forth. Stange…I was curious, so I tiptoed out to investigate.

What I found, in the wash, was one of the babies on it’s back, flailing about, unable to recover it’s upright position. It looked like, perhaps, a thrasher, or dirt monkey had tried to nab it and swept it off his feet. As I watched  a moment longer, the family ran off, leaving the little fellow flailing about! (like mother, like daughter, I guess!) Of course, instinct took over and I snatched the little fuzz ball up and ran back to the porch, grandquail in hand!

Donna, my mother-in-law, was readily available to grab a towel, eye dropper full of water and a Miller Lite beer box. I placed the baby in the box (still in hand), under the towel, and got him to take some water. After my heart rate calmed down a little, I sat with the baby in hand, to get his heart rate down. We bonded a little, but I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t  survive by himself. Unlike his mother, when we rescued her, she had 4 siblings with her. Plus, she was plucked out of the wild, the day she was born. This little guy, was all alone, and had enjoyed/endured his wild life for at least one or two days.

We got the little quail settled in a little cage, with food, water and heating pad… But he was frantic! I felt terrible…I thought we bonded!! As I sat there worrying about his fate, I happened to see his family making their way towards the water dish in the backyard.

I quickly plucked the little guy out of the cage and slowly made my way towards the family….”whoootoooo! whooootoooo!” I called out to his mother (that was our call). The family waited under the protection of a clump of cactus. I set their baby down and shooed him in the right direction.

It was an amazing reunion! …Where was the camera!!

But here is last year’s photo….Mother Quail -the ‘Whootoos’ we rescued almost exactly 1 year ago on July 4th!  I do believe our little grandquail looks just like his mom!

Dirtmonkey Daycare

Dirtmonkeys…..Arrrrrgh! They keep Todd busy, trying to defend the yard against their appetite for anything freshly planted, and the ‘holey’ havoc they create! This time of year, there is a mass explosion of babies emerging from their underground nests to explore their new above-play-ground… So cute and funny…and so hard to resist!

The baby dirtmonkeys  play all day. Chasing each other, tumbling around wrestling. The desert heat doesn’t even slow these little fuzzballs down. They tentatively approach babies from other families to touch noses and check each other out. It’s sweet to watch their affectionate displays of  friendship.

The ‘dirtmommies’  are very protective and precise in teaching their babies the art of mass destruction!

This is how we dubbed them ‘Dirtmonkeys’… (a.k.a. Round tail squirrels). They love to climb trees and hang out!

It’s hard to hate these little guys….they even play well with others…

And of course this guy really, really LOVES them!….

Bon Appetit!

Quailien Nation….Babies galore!

OMG! We have the largest brood of baby quail chicks, livin’ large and legal, in Todd’s Backyard! Todd counted 25 babies in one family! The amazing thing is that they have  survived for an entire week…in tact!

We’ve only been able to capture 1 picture, and unfortunately, you can’t see the whole ‘chick’n kaboodle’! There are more behind the pot and even more following mom at the end. Hopefully we will be able to get more pics today and I can post an update later!

Just Hatched and Ready to Go!

As I returned to my desert home, after a long week in Michigan, I was thrilled to learn that the baby quail have started to hatch! Soon Todd’s Backyard will be a  bustling blur of little balls of fuzz, darting from the protective underbellies of cactus and shrubs. Unfortunately, they tend to go from families as big as 12, to about 3, in a very short time, as they make delicious bite sized snacks for all the local predators.

Todd captured pics  of this little family soon after the babies just hatched…

They need to warm up a bit in the sun, before their first trek though the desert…When they have to scurry after their mom as fast as their little legs can carry them. But the sun wasn’t getting them warmed up enough…

So the entire group tries to crawl under mom…

And they succeed!….Except for one cold little baby bottom!

It’s reassuring, knowing that they have a little loving support and protection as they start their new lives!

Here’s to a fresh start and and newly hatched endeavors!