With each passing week, the urge to photograph grows stronger and stronger. Perhaps more so now that it’s starting to get warm outside again. 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 since all the critters come and go at different times, this post will be ongoing and forever changing as I add new pictures.
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.
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 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.
I’m pretty sure this is the American Robbin. From what I can tell, these birds are quite common in our area. 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 in the feeder. However, the big black crow (yet to be photographed) is pretty much the nuclear option when it comes to domination. 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 fish compared to the salt water fish. Their bellies are colorful, if you consider one color colorful.
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 they build their nests in trees. We had a nest with a single baby dove last year in one of our Austrian Pines. 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).
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. 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. They can easily overpower the smaller birds at the bird feeder. I’ve learned to get different kind of seed for this reason. There are two other type of Grackle; boat-tailed and great-tailed. I’m pretty sure this is the Common Grackle because of the bright yellow eyes and the smaller tail feathers.
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.
More to come …