Thursday, June 18, 2009

Into the wild ... of my backyard

Every since we started working on the backyard, adding plants and the tortoise enclosure, more and more wildlife has been attracted to the area. We have had run-ins with everything from skunks to lizards. Rommel has even named a local raccoon Swiper. (He obviously watched too much Dora when he was visiting our nephews.) But there were a couple of experiences that were more memorable than others.

A few weeks ago my husband tells me that one of our adopted feral cats had caught a mouse. I figured it was probably dead already if the cat was carrying it around in his mouth, so I decided not to check it out. A little while later, we head out to go for a walk and I see all the cats surrounding an aloe plant in the garden. They did not run away when I got closer to them so I knew they were after something. I crouch down and what do I see? Not a little mouse, that's for sure. I see a rat. (Just for the record, I appreciate all animals, but some freak me out more than others.) I could not just leave it there to be played with by the cats, so I sent Rommel to find a box while I kept the cats away. Rommel was taking his sweet time, so I decided to try and catch it in the reusable shopping bag I had in my hands. Due to the aloe plant, I could not just throw the bag over him, so I had to try and scoot him out. He proceeded to climb up into the jade bush. At this point I could have grabbed his tail because he was frozen in place, but I just could not bring myself to do it. Just too gross. Rommel finally brings me a small trash can, but the rat decides to scale the stucco wall. I head around to the other side of the gate and we corner him. Between the dogs jumping all over the place trying to get to this new and interesting creature and me screaming, we were surprisingly able to catch him. Luckily he was not hurt, just a little shaken. I briefly considered taking him in and fattening him up before we release him to become some other animals' meal, but quickly changed my mind. Of course the cats kept following us, so we took Mousekewitz (yes, I named him) across the street. I heard that rats like living in ivy, so we let him go in some ivy next to an apartment building. I tried to scoot him along and instead of freezing like a statue like him did before, he turns on me like he is going to strike. I knew he was safe from the cats, so I allow myself to run away like a scared little girl.

The picture to the left shows the home of what I call the birds from hell, otherwise known as mockingbirds, which have built a nest in one of the palm trees bordering our driveway. I have seen them repeatedly go after squirrels and other birds that come within ten feet of the tree. They never come after us, but they definitely keep a close watch on our activities. I decided to relax with a book in the backyard after work the other day. It was the first sunny day of June and I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather. I noticed one of the mockingbirds handing out on the back fence. I did not think much of it at first, but the longer he stayed their I began to get curious because their nest is in the front and they never seem to leave the nest for very long. I began walking towards the fence and the bird immediately puffed up, squawking like crazy. Then I saw the baby bird hiding on the ground against the house. I managed to keep the dogs away and grabbed a bucket, hoping to scoop up the bird and place it close to the nest. Instead I faced a bird attack like I have never seen before and again I ended up running away like a scared little girl again. I went out later and the baby bird was gone, apparently had flown off, but the adult stayed around the rest of the afternoon watching me.

And finally yesterday was the home invasion. I was working in our office while the dogs slept on the floor when my husband called. I walked into our bedroom and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. One of the cats was sitting on the inside of the window watching Ziggy, our canary. I came closer and he squeezed out the same hole in the screen we use for our portable air conditioner. He came in our house to eat our bird! We feed them!

At least I can say that life is interesting around our house, whether it means saying rodents or being attacked by demon birds.

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