Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wildlife In Your Yard

In the depths of the drought (which is real, even if our town well crisis is man- made), wildlife comes to town. Human activity tends to make a green oasis composed of the non- native plants that come with civilization, not to mention gardens, flowers, leaky wells, and other sources of plant nourishment. Deer and coyotes are feeding in peoples' yards, not just at dawn but in broad daylight. I am sure, as in years past, lions are here too, following their food and competitors. We just don't see them because here, unlike in Boulder, lions are also prey.

Random observations by John Wilson and me suggest that bird reproduction is not going well in the hills this year. Mixed-species flocks that should be breeding throng all day around John's water points a little way out of town.

With the birds come their predators. When I lived outside of town, the common gopher snake, Pituophis catinefer , was a fairly frequent visitor around my pigeon loft. If a snake found a hole larger than the 1/2" mesh of aviary wire, I was likely to lose some eggs or nestlings; bigger, bolder, individuals sometimes killed a full grown pigeon though they didn't seem able to swallow it.

As the non- nesting birds come to town, and rodents, their predators must follow. A few days ago Libby came in to tell my there was a snake in the main flight loft. Hindsight says it was obviously a bull snake, but it had more yellow in the background than I had ever seen. Therefore I used my snake hook until I could clearly see its head. It was extremely agile in the heat, but I finally managed to get the bucket in front of it, and it poured itself in. First photo shows it coiled in the bottom of the temporarily co-opted waste basket; the second [right or double click for bigger] as it crawls hastily away when we released it on the edge of town in the arroyo. The third is a picture I found on the net of an individual as yellow as mine.

1 comment:

Jess said...

I removed a bull snake from our yard a couple of years ago that looked just like that one. Lots of bright yellow on him, so much so that I doubted myself and had to go find a picture of a similarly brilliant one to justify my identification to Brett.