Wildlife Visitors

Violet-green swallow, California

These photos reflect a few of the wildlife friends who have come to visit us in the past two weeks, as we continue to adhere to Covid-lockdown orders.

 

Numerous bird species that migrate here to breed join the year-round bird residents — all are breeding and nesting right now. It’s a very exciting time and every day the yard is filled with hundreds of avian friends.

California Quail, male, California’s state bird

We have lived here 19 years, on a rural two-acre property in Northern California, and have spent every day turning it into a wildlife parkland.

 

We were recently thrilled to see a pair of California quail finally return to breed on our property. Their populations perished in the 2017 wildlife fires; this spring they are back for the first time. As ground birds, they have to be very stealthy in their nesting; in a week, maybe two, we will see their chicks…if we are lucky.

 

Black-headed grosbeaks abound at our feeders. We heard the first chick this week. In another month or so, they will fly back to Mexico with their new broods.

Black-headed Grosbeak (male); a highly anticipated spring arrival

 

A pair of house finches just successfully fledged three or four offspring this week.

House Finches (Calif.), male on L, female on R

 

It is only minutes after the birds have found their evening roost that we begin to see a bat or two coming in, swooping up insects. They are barely visible in the dusk landscape,ย  but I know where to look. They are busy all night long.

 

Our resident bats, the canyon bat, are small–smaller than an adult hand. This photo gives you a rare close-up view.

Canyon Bat, California

 

We see western fence lizards every day, which I love, and the snakes are out and about now too. We don’t see reptiles in the winter, too cold, but are always glad to see them in spring and summer.

 

This big gopher snake greeted us on a morning walk last month, on the road adjacent to our property. We watched quietly for a few minutes, until the tongue and raised head sensed us, and then s/he instantly vanished in the weeds.

Gopher Snake, California

 

Mammals recently recorded on our outdoor camera trap revealed a coyote, skunk, raccoon, bobcat, and gray fox.

Bobcat, California

 

The “critter cam” reveals how busy it gets here at night. The animals forage under the feeders for any leftover seeds, and always drink from the water trays now that the winter rains are over. All photos here have been taken on our property, but not by the critter cam.

 

Gray fox, California

 

During the day, mammals most seen are jackrabbits, gray squirrels, and chipmunks. Lately a newcomer has joined the fray, a brush rabbit.

Brush Rabbit, California

I am happy to report the brush rabbit is fitting in well. It must be roosting on the property somewhere, because it’s here daily now, grazing on the last bits of green grass that have not yet dried up.

 

I learned years ago that we have to make our own space. Thanks for joining me in our Peaceable Kingdom.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

Anna’s Hummingbird, male, California

 

104 thoughts on “Wildlife Visitors

  1. Wonderful photos. We have bobcats, but we rarely see them. We also have a cougar that roams the bosque. Fortunately, I have not ran into the cougar, but one couple told me they saw it a few weeks ago.

    • Yes, critter cams are really fun, Jill, revealing a world that isn’t always evident during daylight hours. And you’re right, some years are better than others for rabbits, depending on the success of the predator populations. Always a delight to have you stop by, my friend, thank you.

  2. What an incredible collection of visitors you have. A few surprised me such as the Bobcat. Is there any concern with them attacking small animals or people? The photos are incredible. Even though you are unable to travel now , it seems that your 19 years of work have created a wild kingdom of your own.
    Hoping the healing continues Jet. We have been thinking of you and as always sending our very best wishes.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed our wildlife visitors, Sue. We work really hard every day to encourage and support their presence and the perpetuation of their populations, so I am pretty proud of what we have accomplished in these nearly two decades. Also, as you pointed out, they are our only visitors during lockdown, and great company. Re bobcats. No, they don’t attack people. They are extremely shy. As for small animals, well, they are predators so the rabbits, and other small mammals, even birds, have to be quick. Thanks, too, for your healing wishes. Many thanks and warm smiles to you and Dave.

  3. I enjoyed visiting the Peaceable Kingdom! What a wonderful variety of creatures there, passing through and permanent. Iโ€™d be thrilled to spot a bobcat!
    Thanks, Jet. We hope your ankle recovery is going well!

    • Oh you are so right, pc, it is always a thrill to spot a bobcat. Lately they have been here every week, which is very exciting. They mostly come at night, so we rarely see them, but once in a while one will saunter through during the daytime and we’re in quite a silent flurry with binoculars and cameras. I’ve seen a few on different trails while hiking. Fantastic to behold. Thanks for the healing wishes too, the ankle recovery is slow-going unfortunately, because I broke three bones and bones don’t grow real fast. But I’m doing pretty well. Many thanks, my friend, and warm wishes to you and Mrs. pc.

  4. You have some lovely critters, and birds visiting your property! The fox and bobcat are wonderful of the critters visiting you. I’ve yet to see a fox in daylight hours, and have only seen a bobcat twice in my life!

    • I’m happy to share the wildlife denizens of our property with you Deborah. It’s always a thrill when an ordinarily nocturnal visitor shows up during daylight posing for photos. The fox you saw in the photo was a kit with a sibling and they were so playful with each other. Many thanks for your visit and comment, a pleasure.

  5. So many wonderful visitors! Iโ€™m so glad to hear the quail have returned again, ENJOY! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผโค๏ธ๐ŸฆŠ๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿฆ‰

    • Yes, we have not stopped glowing since the Calif. quail pair showed up about three weeks ago. They are here every day for hours at a time now, and it’s very rewarding to witness. Thanks so much for your delightful menagerie of emoticons and cheerful visit, Big Sow. Much appreciated.

  6. Morning, Jet. Thanks to you, Athena and the critter cam for the tour, you’ve created a great environment. I’m glad to hear the quail are back. It gives me hope for the future.

    • Always a delight to receive the beauty of your visit and words, Thomas. I’m pretty private about my personal life, and protective of my home environment, but with all the unrest in this country and the upset of the pandemic, it seemed like a good time to share some peaceful visitors. As for the quail, we always had them here everyday since we came here in 2001. After the fires, which pretty much obliterated our property, we were bereft at their long, two-year absence. And now, having them back gives you and I both hope for the future. Warmest thanks.

    • Yes, you are familiar with the outdoors, Craig, and know that baby quail are a delicious delicacy to many wild creatures. They usually produce a covey of about 8-10 chicks, and by season’s end when they’re big enough to fend for themselves, there’s about 4 or 5 left. But boy, are they ever adorable little chicks. Always a true pleasure to have you stop by, thank you.

  7. What a wonderful, varied and glamorous(!) collection Jet. I am amazed, impressed and very jealous ๐Ÿ˜‰ We love the range of birds and other creatures we see in our own garden but, being urban, the most โ€œexoticโ€ would be a fox or a hedgehog – they are good to see as well of course ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • I am pleased and honored to share the critters of my home with you, Alastair. We work endlessly to encourage the wild visitors and their offspring, and I am happy to report that everyday has a rewarding payoff. I have never seen a hedgehog in my life, how thrilling for you to have them visit you in your garden. Wonderful to “see” you, my best wishes to you and your family.

    • I enjoyed your remarks, Cathy, thanks so much. Hearing the “bobcat made [your] jaded husband woosh with delight” gave me a big smile. Thanks so very much.

  8. You’ve obviously done a great job with your acres, Jet. What a joy it must be to see all these on a regular basis in your own “yard.” Thanks for letting us share the blessings.

    janet

    • Thanks so much for your warm words, Janet. It has indeed been a great joy to be joining in with the wildlife here, especially during this lockdown. Many thanks.

  9. What cool friends you have, Jet. Staying at home may be tough on you for some things, but you are definitely never alone there. When I was a kid you might be sent to your room as punishment, but kids nowadays have so much electronic gear that they have no trouble keeping themselves occupied, That’s sort of the way that I feel about your own personal wildlife refuge. It sounds like you showed us only a minor subset of the critters that you host on your property. Hope that you are healing well and that you will be back on your feet soon.

    • How wonderful to receive your warm words, Mike, thank you. Yes, I am feeling pretty lucky to have these friends dropping by during the lockdown. The landscape is still looking like a war zone, due to the 2017 fires, but plants are growing and wildlife have returned, so I’m happy to be here especially now when the outdoors is one of our only safe places to be. And you’re right, what I showed in these photos is only a little of all the beautiful creatures that call this spot home. Also, admittedly, I insert less reptiles on my blog posts because so many people find them scary or objectionable. Our lizard population this year for example is leaping, which I am happy about. Thanks for your well wishes, too, I’m healing. Warmest thanks and cheers to you, my friend.

  10. They are a good looking bunch of friends if you ask me. Of course, they are in their own habitat as they should. Thanks to my good friend Jet and partner A. Great post. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Always a joy to hear from you, HJ. I’m glad you liked my lockdown friends. The birds right now are at a peak and it’s a crazy big effort just to keep the seed feeders from emptying, something I know you are very experienced with. Warmest thanks, dear friend.

  11. Your peaceful kingdom is wonderful and very interesting, Jet, wow so many critters! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ The grey fox is gorgeous, its coloring is amazing And I was impressed with the Canyon bat photo, fascinating. Although I’m sure more time is needed for the rebirth from the fires, its nice to see your property returning to a healthy state nicely with the return of wildlife.

    • I’m happy you enjoyed the virtual visit to our Peaceable Kingdom, Donna, and it is a great joy to share it with you. There was a year post-fire when we had to vacate the house for reconstruction, lived in numerous other places, vacation rentals, etc. Even during that year we visited our property every Wed. to check on things, and we’d always fill the feeders and water trays. We had no electricity or water, so we brought water in bottles and bags of seed. This was a well-rewarded effort that announced to all the devastated and dispersed wildlife that food and water were still available. Everyday is a reaping experience. Hope you’re enjoying IN, and many thanks to you.

    • And I am happy to say, dear Bill, that your post-fire work with us in clearing a wildlife corridor through the burned woods has added immensely to the wildlife on our property to this day. Cheers and thanks and lots of love.

  12. Just wonderful to have such a variety of visitors come around to keep you company.
    It makes it so much more exciting, and a whole lot less lonely!
    Do continue to enjoy the very fresh air and delightful sunshine Jet. with love, Eddie

    • Dear Eddie, I smile at your warm comment and promise I will continue to take deep joy in the fresh air and sunshine and surroundings of my environment. Sending lots of smiles and thanks your way, my friend.

  13. So — you’re having trouble keeping your feeders filled, too. I had to laugh at the chaos this morning. One starling has turned into four, three squirrels have turned into eight, and so on. There’s been a whole lot of multiplying going on out there! I must confess I’m developing a fondness for snakes, and I really enjoyed seeing yours. Rattlers and cottonmouths, I’d prefer to avoid, but I’m eager to see another non-venomous one in my neighborhood.

    • Yes, lol, the feeders are a hotspot, and I, too, laugh at the chaos out there. Fun to read your comment, Linda. I’m happy to hear you’re developing a fondness for snakes. It took me years to do the same, and I still don’t feel the need to touch one, but their movement and way in the world is fascinating, even beautiful. The longest snake I have ever seen was on a guest ranch in Texas, so I think your snakes down there might indeed take some getting used to. Many thanks, my friend.

  14. Such wonderful neighbors you have! I particularly like the handsome gray fox and the charming quail. Like you, I really look forward to the spring migrant birds and their dawn chorus. Such an exciting time of year!

    • Yes, we do have wonderful neighbors with the gray fox, quail, and others — I’m really glad you enjoyed them, Eliza. We have wonderful human neighbors too, which is a joy. I am happy that spring has arrived in your garden, rewarding you with the birds and plants you love so much.

    • I always find it a pleasure to see all the wildlife that you have hosted in your backyards, Sylvia, so I am happy I could reciprocate here. Many thanks for your visit and warm words.

  15. So nice to see such a good variety of creatures returning and thriving! You have created and nurtured and protected a lovely environment for them.
    What was that bat perched on? Bright green something…

    • The bat is perched inside our deck umbrella. That’s their favorite place to be, and is a good background for the photo, but we no longer allow that, as who wants bat quano on their deck table everyday? lol. Really fun, as always, to have you stop by, dear Nan…thank you.

  16. Loved your wildlife parkland and the wonderful photos! The gray fox is beautiful and how exciting it must be to see the fox and bobcat wandering through your peaceable kingdom and the return of the quails. We have rose-breasted grosbeaks that visit in the summer and it was wonderful to see the black-headed grosbeak. The bat that lives on our deck has returned, but I try not to notice him. I hope your ankle is continuing to heal while your wildlife visitors stop by to cheer you up!

    • So wonderful to receive your comment, ACI. It’s great that you have a lot of wildlife visitors in your yard, too. Those bird feeders that we continually refill make a difference. It is fun to see the other grosbeaks, isn’t it? Once we had a rose-breasted visit our feeder, it lasted less than a minute, but fortunately we were watching at that minute and boy, what a thrill that was. I think all the grosbeak species are so stunningly beautiful. Maybe you will get to enjoy the bat who likes your deck? My ankle is continuing to heal, thank you, and the wildlife visitors do really cheer me. I cannot venture farther than the windows and the deck, but nonetheless I am entertained constantly by them. Cheers, my friend, and many thanks.

  17. Hi Jet, How marvelous! I am imagining you and Athena wandering and enjoying your property and making it as hospitable to wildlife as possible. All the photos are wonderful – the Violet-green Swallow is amazing– wish I would see one sometime! And I just love seeing Quails- gorgeous shot. We had Bobcats where I lived in SC and it was always a treat to see them since they are shy.
    I see above you hurt your ankle? Hope you are healing well.
    Thank you for the great tour of the wildlife in your peaceable kingdom. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Wonderful to “see” you, Jane. Yes, throughout the lockdown we have spent many hours hiking and exploring our mountaintop. Glad you enjoyed the photos. Swallows, as you probably know, are not easy to photograph because they don’t stay still long. Every spring we have several pairs nesting in nest boxes on our property, so Athena has more of a chance to find them perching. Re ankle. Was on a trail and slipped on gravel, broke three bones so I’m laid up for what has felt like forever, but isn’t. Many thanks for your visits. Wishing you the best as you settle into Pasadena.

    • Oh yes, a critter cam would be great fun on an acre. I believe you once mentioned you have a nearby creek, as well. Sounds like the perfect lockdown gift to give yourself. Great to have you visit here, Jan, thanks so much, as always.

  18. Your wildlife sanctuary is utterly amazing and must bring never ending pleasure. We are also awaiting the arrival of the quail chicks any day now. I literally gasped when I read that your quail population took a hit during the fire. Good to see signs of recovery.

    We have a trail cam up, but don’t get anywhere near the quality of photos you’ve posted. Mind telling me what camera you’re using? It’s so nice to see who’s been visiting after the sun goes down.

    • I’m smiling, Gunta, happy that you enjoyed our, to use your words, wildlife sanctuary. We’ve worked 19 years to make it happen, as you can imagine, and no doubt it is much what you and Eric are doing/done with your new and former properties. The critter cam is a Bushnell Trophy Cam, but it was not used for any of the photos taken in this post. Originally we had an older model critter cam, also Bushnell, but it burned down to nothing in the fire. So then we got a new model, this one, and it’s more sensitive and sophisticated, the result being every wind or blowing piece of grass triggers it. So no recommendations to give. Thank you for your visits, always a great pleasure, Gunta.

  19. Wonderful photos ! ! Such a variety of wildlife. Unfortunately during my very brief visit to California we didn’t get to seek out much in the way of wildlife, but it did make me very happy to see Pelicans in the wild for the first time in Santa Barbara ๐Ÿ™‚

    • We have been lucky to enjoy continued visits from the bobcat. We haven’t seen this individual during the day, but the critter cam records him or her coming in at least once a week, at night, for a drink at the water trough. It’s dry here, very dry, and we always have water and at this time of year, day and night, it’s a creature magnet. Great fun. Thank you, Inese, nice to “see” you.

  20. Wow Jet, it just leaves me speechless. What a wonderful paradise you live in and keep creating. To have birds breeding and to (hopefully) see their young must be awesome! Thanks for sharing.

    • I am delighted to share the lively stream of wildlife visitors with you, Bertie. It’s been rewarding and educational to host these wonderful critters. Thank you so much for your visits today.

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