Eat, Drink, Be Merry…and Some Other Shit

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The heat is starting to prickle here in the desert. This week promises temps between 100 and 110…. aaauuugggghhh! So, it’s not surprising that the feeders, water dishes and pond are popular hangouts for the local wildlife. Every morning and late afternoon we see it all! Birds, rabbits, squirrels, javelina, lizards, bobcat, coyote, and just the other day our ‘creature from the desert hollows’ (the toad), crawled out of his hole to find refreshment. When it’s just too hot to do anything else, just eat, drink and be merry!…


Five finches find food at the fully filled feeder.

A quail couple chow down on the ‘Peckasso’ block seeder.



Baby buns have fun nibbling in the cool grassy place.

A red winged black bird gets photo-bombed while stuffing his face!



Hummingbirds flirt and hover around their honey hole hangout.

This Baltimore oriel takes a sip stop on his way-back-home Northern route.




This starling likes to take a sip and a dip.

The bunny takes a drink to put the hop  in his hip!



 The hawk  takes a water break and claims his domain.

 Mr . Toad  took a sip and a dip now just waits for the rain.




The coyote gets a cool drink, soothing and calm.

A closer look reveals…yes it is…another photo bomb!  (Silly quail!)



And be Merry…



 The javelina , you would think, might want some water to swallow. But, they would rather tip over their drink and make a nice mud wallow!

Eat, drink and be merry, then what do we do?


Guess the only thing left…. you just gotta poo!     (Pictured above, a lovely specimen of javelina shit 😉 )

Big Ass Birds

The Harris Hawk is one of the largest hawks in North America….Up to 21″ tall and a wing span of 4 feet! They hunt in groups, and last week a group of three took a little R&R in Todd’s Backyard!  Long enough for a little photo show. Spectacular!


This guy was not hard to spot, easily meeting the 21″ standard! We didn’t see the others, but could hear them talking (screeching) to each other.


After about 10 minutes,when they had enough rest, they all took off. Two landing atop a mesquite tree to get the lay of the land to continue their hunt. It was time to hawk ‘n’ roll!


It always a treat to see these awesome creatures! Although, it’s hard to really get a perspective of actually how big these birds are in photos! So maybe this will give you a better idea…. :0


A Bird’s Eye View

One afternoon, in the soft Autumn light, a figure appeared that caught everyone’s sight. Sitting tall and calm on a twisted tree limb, he surveyed his surroundings to see if the pickin’s were slim.


The visible visitor was very pleased to find, the pickin’s where plenty and amusingly terrified! He always loved to watch the show, as his prey panicked and scurried and freaked out below!  Now, satisfied he would have a nice hearty meal, he sat back and relaxed to watch everyone squeal!


The sparrows swarmed and hid in the bushes, the quail dove under cactus to cover their tushes. The doves left the scene in a winged whoosh of flurry and the squirrels dove in their holes in a psycho crazed hurry! All the while, their feathered foe took his time, primping and plotting his culinary crime.


When he was sufficiently refreshed and ready to rock…”Now, my little morsels, time to eat!” Screeched Mr. Hawk. His tail twitched, his eyes focused as he scanned Todd’s Backyard. He looked and he looked, he looked very hard. Something was amiss…where had all the food gone? He knew he had seen it!…Had he been wrong? Then he reminded himself, he chose to snooze, and of course you know what they say….


Keep your eyes on the prize!…And don’t be a fool 😉

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…


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!


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


Bob has been hanging out  a lot!


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!


Awww…One bun’s just no fun!

So we decided to get a couple of our own!


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…


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


Like Feline ala Furreir


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…


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

A Shot of Fantasy with a Beer Chaser

And perhaps a grain of salt...

The seasons have come and gone in Todd’s Backyard. Each year seems to blend together with the predictable cycles of blossoming growth and barren dormancy, the frost and the heat, births and deaths. It’s fun to witness and document this magical process with photos, even though we may have dozens of similar photos from year to year: the blazing sunsets, blossoming cactus, resplendent reptiles, cute critters…etc…etc. It’s a rare moment when you come across something unexpected and completely new.

So, it was last week, at the peak of the monsoon season, that we stumbled upon an interesting scene. A scene rarely seen in the desert. It was hidden away under a fallen palm frond.

Hmmm….we do get mushrooms popping up here and there in the summer rains, but we’ve never seen an entire toadstool patch/grove/or whatever it’s called.

It brought to mind fairy tales and folklore, not usually associated with the prickly hot desert. Could this be a gateway into a fantasy world we had yet to discover?….

I think yes…Todd thinks I’m crazy!

 So check it out….I discovered a fairy tale kingdom in Todd’s Backyard with a cast of characters that has kept me entertained for the past week or so (on my computer)!

Reigning over his cactus kingdom is his royal majesty, King Hummy VIII. Small, but mighty, he rules with a fierce tenacity to defend his treasure! (Hummingbird food)

The King’s valiant knight, Sir Quailiant, guards the kingdom with valor and vigilance. Protecting his brood from the forces of evil, such as roadrunners and bobcats!

The kingdom’s feathered foe lies wait in the trees. His stealth and cunning ways have kept him fat and happy!

Robin Hawk.

Unlike his folk-lorish inspiration, this bloodthirsty outlaw eats the rich…. and the poor.. and he doesn’t share! The only thing he gives is a good scare!

But there is a lighter side to this tale…

You jest! No…I don’t!

Jairy. Always entertaining, never scary! Although he is a bit mischievous, he  puts the Ha Ha in Javelina!

But it’s this prince, that presumes himself the star of Todd’s backyard Kingdom! He would be King!(Charles) if he were not so spoiled!

Or perhaps its just the beginning! Another chapter may be in store if opportunity comes knocking… at the backdoor! HuhZaa!


At 8 o’clock this morning, we had a knock at our back door. It was our neighbor, bearing a dead hawk that had just hit their window and broke it’s neck in hot pursuit of it’s prey. It was a smaller hawk, we believe it was a sharp-shinned hawk, that had just moved down south for the winter months. (Probably why he wasn’t used to the reflective glass on the house windows)….It could be a Cooper’s hawk, but I don’t think it was big enough.

I took a photo as a memorial….

Kind of morbid, but still beautiful in death, as if he still has his eyes focused on his target.

Later, this afternoon, we were sitting out on the porch discussing the unfortunate event with our neighbor’s. Just then, another hawk starting buzzing around the yard, stirring up all the little birds. It swooped down and landed just a few feet off of the porch. At first we thought it may be the mate of the deceased, but I’m pretty sure this one was a Cooper’s Hawk…it looked larger, and a little different coloring…

But, I guess you just never know. Regardless, whoever or however this beautiful bird might be related to the poor guy that met his maker, having this momentary connection made the horrible event a little easier to bear.

Some Awesome Hawk Shots

A burst of birds blasting through the trees with a gust of winged wind….a common occurrence these days. The hawks are on the hunt and they are not timid around humans. Todd has had several up-close and personal ‘brushes’ with a hawk soaring right by him while pursuing it’s prey.

He has also been able to get some great pics!…

We were sitting on the porch yesterday afternoon, when we were surprised by a hawk swooping in and landing on the tree limb just a few feet away! I grabbed the camera and slowly crept towards him for a better shot. To my horror, I then saw his likely meal target….Zoe, our little cat was crouched below, in her wild-cat-hunting mode, thinking she was going to pounce on the hawk!

“Don’t mess with me you silly bird!”…….”I will mess you up!!!”…..”Meow!”

sHawk and Awe!

It looks like Todd’s Backyard has become the favorite local dining spot for some of our fierce feathered friends! We can’t sit outside for more than a moment, when a furious flurry of chirps and squawks erupt, along with a burst of birds scattering in all directions…chased by a hawk looking for dinner!

We have several different varieties of hawks that feast on TBY’s vast menu of varmint vittles…

Probably the most awesome, is the Harris hawk- certainly one of the larger birds we see. His wingspan is almost 4 feet! You surely know when he’s around!

I think this is a Cooper’s Hawk. They’re a little harder to spot ’cause they really blend in! Extremely stealthy…We’ve seen these guys pick a dove right out of the sky and vanish. The only evidence of conquest, is a rain of feathers gently floating to the ground where the action took place.

This guy treated us to a little dance one afternoon.  We watched him fluff  ‘n’ puff,  hopping and screeching, up and down the wall of our neighbor’s fence…..Looking for love perhaps? It was a dazzling display that lasted for a good 15 minutes. We never did see the object of his desire, but we heard the other hawk calling back.

This is my favorite ‘Hawk Shot’! Gorgeous!

This is a photo ‘painting’ I created from a pic taken the other day.  (Just thought I’d throw it in, since I’m talkin’ some hawkin!)

As we look forward to the blasting furnace of summer in the desert, we could only hope that the hungry hawk’s flash and dash might create just enough wing generated breeze – perhaps to cool, but certainly to awe!