Wildlife Found in My Colorado Backyard

With each passing week, the urge to photograph grows stronger and stronger. Perhaps more so now that it’s starting to get warm outside. With winter coming to an end and spring just a week away, the urge to start practicing my photography has taken on a new challenge. That being, photograph all the living mammals that visit or live in the backyard or the front yard. Since I don’t have my camera with me all the time, and all the critters come and go at different times, this post will be ongoing and forever changing as I add new pictures.

Wild Rabbit


Wild Rabbit

Before you moan and groan about cuteness, let me blab a bit about this wild lagomorph monster. Aside from the millions of pellet size poos it produces, the horrid diseases it carries, and the carcass remains from hawk attacks, it also eats pretty much anything it can reach. I can’t even begin to tell you how many bushes, flowers, and even trees this unforgiving rabbit has eaten.

And it’s not like there’s just one of these critters. At one point, we counted nine in the front yard alone. Every day, all throughout the day, they congregate and move in like a furious furry locust swarm. Biblical end of days stuff. I don’t have it in my heart to pull out the pellet gun or poison, but I do have another under-performing weapon.

It’s called Yoki. She’s our 55 pound Cattle Dog/Australian shepherd mix that has yet to catch one, but never loses interest or ambition in trying. Both rabbit and dog are conditioned. Yoki whimpers whenever she sees one from the breakfast nook bay window, and the rabbits elevate to DEFCON 1 when they hear the front door open or the jingle-jangle of her collar. Yoki barks and growls in full-stride as she charges after the rabbits, so fast at times, she completely passes one that’s only feet away hunkered down in “stealth mode”.

As the old saying goes, he who chases two rabbits catches neither. Perhaps even more so when there are nine. While she does chase them from the yard, this is hardly a solution. As if to taunt Yoki and I, they return in numbers converting expensive living vegetation into nearly perfectly round spheres of poop.

Chickens


Backyard Free Range Chickens

While these ladies may not be indigenous to the area, they can be found wandering our backyard every day. These are our chickens, raised from when they were just a couple weeks old. They are part of a hobby/project I started a couple years back.

Since growing a lawn is probably easier on Mars than where we live, I figured I’d allocate our yard’s scarce but natural resources for another use. That being, a natural and organic habitat for our chickens. I have a whole blog category on these fine six ladies, but in short, they roam the backyard eating all the little bugs and weeds that can also be found on the property.

Unlike the rabbits, these hens provide us fresh, free range, and completely organic eggs that make for great breakfasts, deviled eggs and quiche. However, just like the rabbits, they too poop, but it’s actually quite useful. Unlike rabbit poop, chicken poop is excellent fertilizer for our vegetable beds and the other bushes and trees in the backyard. I collect the coop poop and redistribute the wealth to other trees and bushes found around the yard.

American Red Robbin


American Red Robbin

This is the American Robbin. From what I can tell, these birds are quite common in our area. I see them in our backyard all the time, hoping around. In fact, I think I see them on the ground more than I do flying. Finding one in the tree as shown in the photo to the left is actually quite rare.

There’s nothing remarkable about the noise this robin makes. From the observations I’ve made, they just make rapid noisy shrill calls, and are nothing like the meadow lark. If making a comparison to the world of tropical fish, they are kind of like the fresh water variety as compared to the salt water fish. Their bellies are colorful, if you consider one color colorful.

Eurasian Collared-Dove


Eurasian Collared-Dove

I’m pretty sure this is a Eurasian Collared-Dove. It’s native to the Middle East and Asia. What’s interesting about this bird is from what little research I’ve done, it sounds like it’s a relatively new bird to North America.

According to a couple sources, it found its way to Florida in 1989 by way of the Bahamas, and since then has spread across the continent. As of 2011, it’s considered to be quite common in most States.

I mostly seem them on the ground feeding, and where you see one, there are usually two (Love Doves). They like to build their nests in our Austrian Pine trees. Unless someone tells me otherwise, I’m sticking with Eurasian Collared-Dove, but the little black feather strip on the back of its neck is pretty telling. They also make a coo-COO-coo-coo sound that I usually hear in the morning. Otherwise, they just make grunting noises when flying (they don’t appear to be that agile).

Common Grackle


Common Grackle

I think this one is called a Common Grackle. What’s strange, is that when this bird is in poor lighting, they look completely black. But if the sun is shining on them, you can see their bright blue head and brown feathers. They also have bright yellow eyes.

These guys are pretty aggressive. They also tend to dominate the bird feeder, when I’m feeling generous enough to fill it. Their presence alone is enough to scare away the smaller birds bold enough to think they have a “right” to the food. However, the big black Raven (yet to be photographed) is pretty much the nuclear option when it comes to domination. They are less interested in the smaller finch bird seed, which sort of keeps them away from the feeder.

If they have a nest in the area, they will deliberately make noise and try to lead you away. They also gather in bunches and make quite a ruckus. There are two other type of Grackle; boat-tailed and great-tailed. But I’m pretty sure this is the Common Grackle because of the bright yellow eyes and the smaller tail feathers.

Finch


I’m not sure what kind of bird this is, but I think it’s either a sparrow or a finch due to the small beak and small size. It’s also kind of barrel chested. I thought it would be easier to identify with the orange and red feathers, but not for a rookie like myself. It kind of looks like the bird might also be molting, or losing its feathers. This is harder than I thought it would be.

These fellas are pretty common, usually found in the trees chirping away. They do frequent the bird feeder when the larger Common Grackle isn’t being a bully. One has made a home in a birdhouse I provided a couple years ago.

Tree Swallow



I’m quite certain this is a tree swallow. These guys are pretty cool. They can glide in the gentlest of breezes without flapping their wings. Silent too. If I’m laying in my hammock, they’ll swoop by and can be a bit startling if you aren’t expecting one so close.

In the picture to the left, I have a feeling that is not the homeowner. I haven’t seen him return that that birdhouse in quite some time. I have a feeling he may be the landlord landlord trying to evict the rightful first-come-first-served owner. Or, he may be trying to eat the eggs inside. Certainly doesn’t look like he could through the hole, but maybe I’m wrong.

I’ll keep an eye on him to see if he returns. To think about it, I haven’t seen any bird return to this birdhouse.

House Sparrow


I’m not sure what kind of bird this is, and I’m not that good at guessing, but I think it’s a House Sparrow? The feathers on its head and neck almost look like a fur coat!

This one was perched atop my Honeylocust Shade Master tree making a ton of noise. I think this one may live in one of the bird houses, are has a nest nearby. I hear him quite frequently, although he’s tough to find sometimes. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was in one of the larger pine trees.

The neck on this one looks really long, which is why I almost don’t think it’s a sparrow. But maybe it was chirping or making noise when I snapped the picture.

Great Horned Owl


This is a Great Horned Owl, and he’s super cool. We can hear him perched atop our house some nights hooting up a chorus. Pretty loud, too. My son says it sounds like he’s right above his window, which wouldn’t’ surprise me since that’s the peak of the house.

This photo was taken during the day when he was asleep in the tree. Well, partially asleep since only one eye is open. There are a couple in the area because I can often hear a return hoot from in the distance.

I think he might also be the source of rabbit pieces I sometimes find in the yard. Not too uncommon to find a leg or a patch of fur. Although the hawks could also play a role.

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