The Predators

I think that I heard her growl; that’s what made me look up.  It was a little after six in the evening and I had been reading.  My cat’s tail was totally fluffed out and she was growling, which she only does from behind the protection of a closed door.  There was a bobcat scratching its back on my spa deck, and another one in my small wash.  (That photo was blurred by my excitement.)  They play-wrestled on the top of my spa.  (The cover is quite ratty; I’ve ordered a new one.)  One was larger.  Because it’s spring, I guess they are a couple, but the smaller one seemed more like a youngster.  It did a poor job of stalking the birds under my bird feeder (photo).  As there were two of them, I stayed inside to snap my photos.   This time, however, I did watch their exit from my yard; they go through the fence, pickets four inches on center.  (The javelinas used to go through the wrought iron fence of my last place, pickets 6” on center.)

This morning I noticed movement outside the fence, what looked like a large coyote.  I think because the yard is so small, animals look larger around it.  I missed that photo, as it went between my house and the next, but then saw another one.  I went outside, up the stairs to my deck, but coyotes, unlike bobcats, are spooked by humans.  Then the first coyote came back.  It is spring; they are a pair.  I snapped a few photos, but they were mainly behind the brush.  Noticed that my cat had quickly exited the room, but found her on the back of a couch in the TV room, looking out of the window, where she had a better view.

It’s slightly overcast today.  That seems to encourage the finches.  The reds are back; they are slightly larger than the tiny goldfinches.  Luckily I bought more Nyjer thistle seed at Petsmart yesterday.  I recall my mother complaining about how much her birdseed cost after I had bought her a finch feeder, but she did love the finches outside her dining window.

Yesterday saw a brilliant splash of red, a pyrrhuloxia eating seeds under the saguaro.  Because it’s spring, the doves have been getting “lovey dovey”.  Expect to start seeing nests.  My neighbor thinks that the quail will nest in the giant bird nest my granddaughter and I made in the yard.  I remember them nesting under the pyrocantha in my last yard, assuming that those fire thorns would deter predators, but our Airedale ate the eggs.  When they nested in empty pots around my compost pile I made a fence around it to keep out the dog.  I do love the quail chicks which look like acorns scuttling after their parents.  When they were exiting that yard I had to help one who couldn’t jump over the fence foundation, so he could join his family.

My cat got very twitchy as these quail (photo) walked across my patio a few feet from us.  That time the sliding door was closed.  She has had a hard time recently listening to my admonition of No birds!  I’ve had to grab her and bring her inside a few times when her back end was wriggling as she prepared to pounce on a finch in the rosemary.  There are so many birds around!

We’re supposed to get more rain tomorrow.  Love it!  Was surprised, however, to learn that we’ve only gotten (officially) 4” in the past two months.  Guess it’s too sporadic for more.  My wildflowers have not gotten beyond the seedling stage however; rabbits (which a friend says will eat anything that’s not cast iron) or quail, who knows.

2 Responses to “The Predators”

  1. Darvinia Says:


    If treated in a kindly way, predators become trusting. Years ago, my son and I rehabilitated female gray fox that had been hit by a car. After being in a coma for 3 days, and after 7 months of rehabilitation, I released her. She ran off, but often returned to sit and watch me work in the garden. I got in the habit of treating her to a handful of dog food; and she got into the habit sitting outside our backdoor, waiting for her evening treat. Then, for several years later she brought by 4-7 of her half grown kits. They became more trusting than their mother. I could have easily reached out and touched them.

    They are omnivorous, relishing both fruit and rodents. If I did not shake my fruit trees they would climb up into them and break off large limbs. I never had rodent damage, as long as they were around.
    They all disappeared last year. I suspect that someone inadvertently poisoned them with anti-coagulant bait-block anti-coagulant. Or, coyotes have moved in nearby. Several weeks ago, I found the remains of coyote pup that had been entirely eaten by a great horned owl. Here, where coyotes are shot on sight, they habitually hunt when the humans are sound asleep.

    Sometimes, humans fail to go about befriending predators in the proper way. My neighbor befriended raccoons by feeding them then cat food for several years. Then, she was gone for several days; and her raccoons were left to starve. When she returned, she went to get the cat food out of the container, with the starving raccoons watching. She took such long time to give them their meal that the large male attacked and severely bit her leg, causing her to drop the dish full of food. The ravenous raccoons then all rushed in to get their meal.

    Befriending predators puts them at great risk, because they can be dangerously aggressive if threatened or hungry; and humans who fear them often destroy them, without knowing that they have become friendly and trusting of everyone.

    Befriending non-predators can also be dangerous. Two years ago a pet buck wandered to the outskirts of town, and killed three dogs who attacked him on separate occasions. Last fall, while jogging, a young buck followed me for short distance along the road, until I stopped and petted him. It was rutting season; and as soon as I stopped petting him, he started snorting and gently butting me. I escaped from sporting attention, when he spotted neighbor putting out her trash. I suspect that both of these fine young bucks met and early tragic end.

  2. leslie sawyer Says:

    We buy our thistle at wall mart where we find the best price. We do miss the wildlife that haunted our Tucson yard. Except the rattle snake that lived under the myiporium in the front yard. His rattle was so loud I had a hard time talking to my neighbor. Clearly he (she) didn’t like our conversation. We retreated allowing the snake the peace and quiet that he wanted. Will try and send you the picture that Steve took of the king snakes mating. Spring, even in the snake world.


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