My wife and I really appreciate birds in the wild. As a result of that, we have made an annual pilgrimage down the coast to Rockport/Fulton on the Texas Coastal Bend for many years during the months of March or April where we can see the Whooping Cranes and many other beautiful birds that are down there at this time of year.
We have a couple bird baths and bird feeders at home where we can see local birds and some that are passing through our area. One item I consider noteworthy is for many years we had many mourning doves around our feeders. Then we started getting Eurasian Collared Doves in with the mourning doves and that lasted for about two years. After that white winged doves started showing up and the Eurasian Collared Doves disappeared. Now, for the past three or four years, we are seeing primarily white wing doves along with the cardinals and other beautiful birds.
A few weeks ago we had a stunning red-shouldered hawk show up around our house. It isn’t too bothered about us or our dog unless we start getting to close to it and then it will go up high in one of our oak trees around the house. He is about a foot to a foot and one-half tall and every once in a while he will swoop down into the grass and catch something. So far we have not been able to identify what he is catching, but you can bet to him it is a meal.
One of our neighbors who had a real problem with squirrels in their vegetable garden said that there was a big red-shouldered hawk around their house recently catching squirrels, which they had no problem with this action and welcomed its residency. It is probably the same hawk because they have not seen the one lately that was guarding their garden. When I think about it, I do not see nearly as much squirrel action around my house since the hawk has arrived.
Seeing him out in the yard reminded me that where we live is close to the National Forest and nature and we are lucky to be able to see such as the hawk I described, and many other birds of prey. Bald eagles, crows, buzzards, an occasional roadrunner, and many other varieties of wild birds are around and we also see a lot of land based critters also like opossums, raccoons, coyotes, skunks, and many varieties of reptiles.
We humans on the edge of urban sprawl need to remember that as far as the wild animals are concerned we are the ones intruding upon their turf and should take practical measures not to disturb them or let ourselves be open to the consequences of trying to befriend a wild animal. It has been written that one day “the lion will lay down with a lamb,” and “the beast of the wild shall be led by a child,” and although I completely believe that, I am pretty sure that the time is not today.
We are going to come into contact with wild beings so be prepared. For instance my wife and I have a dog. She is an eighty pound, Leopard Catahoula and if you never heard of them they are named after Catahoula Parish, Louisiana and bred to hunt large game, but is a lover with the family. That, however, does not hold true for her disposition toward opossums, squirrels, and cats.
Now I am not worried about her being out where the red-shouldered hawk can see her, because he is not dumb enough to bite off more than he can chew by attacking her, but I have a couple neighbors who have some of the miniature varieties of dogs that are no larger than a gray squirrel. They really need to watch allowing their small dogs to run loose when there is a hawk in the neighborhood that is considerably larger than their dogs and would not consider the pet anything more than a convenient meal. We cannot blame a hawk if he should take advantage of an easy meal, but none of us want to lose a pet under any circumstances, so we must be proactive and use our heads.
Coyotes are really not fighters if they can help it and given the opportunity they will flee danger from our larger pets that can well defend themselves against such animals. Here again if a homeowner has a pet that is small enough to make a convenient meal for a coyote that is possibly what will happen.
At my house we have always had German Sheppard’s until we came on a little puppy at the Library in Willis with one of those faces that say take me home, so we did. Then we had an eighty pound white German Sheppard and a hand full of American Husky. Soon we had two eighty pound dogs. No healthy coyote would ever come within smelling range of such dogs.
Friends I know that our pets are like members of the family so do not allow them to come into contact with any of Mother Nature’s wild residents by being a responsible pet owner and not allowing them to come into harm’s way.