Monday, November 24, 2008

Wild Kingdom

Our townhouse lies mere minutes outside Washington, D.C., in an area that is far too dense to truly be called suburbs.  And yet, somehow, our tiny back "yard"-- really, a patio and flower beds-- is almost always teeming with some kind of wildlife.  In addition to the usual assortment of small birds, squirrels, and chipmunks, we have seen raccoons, possums, wild cats, and a Cooper hawk.

Tonight, I had just let Sadie outside when she started barking insistently.  I flipped on the light out back in time to see a possum climbing up the fence and into a tree.  I dashed upstairs to grab my camera and snapped a picture from the guest room window.  You can't see much more than the beady eyes, but here he is:

The hawk was harder to figure out.  Our neighbors on both sides had seen this large bird years ago, but David and I didn't spot him until more recently-- maybe last year.  He's definitely a predator, and is known to sweep in and snatch up one of the dozens of tiny birds munching on bird seed on our neighbors' patio.  One neighbor finally figured out that it was a Cooper hawk, and he still comes around on a regular basis.  I saw him most recently only yesterday.

Perhaps strangest of all-- though not in our backyard-- was David's recent encounter with a wild turkey about three blocks away from our house.  Most inspiring was a year ago, when we saw a bald eagle as we drove north on the George Washington Parkway.  And the sweetest is the pair of cardinals-- one a bright red male and one a muted tan female-- who stop by all winter to pick seeds from feeders on our patio or next door.

Not too bad for a city girl with no yard to speak of.

1 comment:

PrinceOfTheWest said...

We had a wild turkey in our back yard this past spring. My daughter saw it out the back window, crouched under a spreading pine we have back there. She thought it was a grouse, but upon one look I knew it was far too big to be a grouse. We gingerly went out back and approached the strange bird, unsure of what it was because of the cover of the branches. When it finally bolted, we could see clearly that it was a hen turkey. Those things are powerful flyers!

This was in a city neighborhood, not 100 yards from a major expressway. Seems the wildlife is adapting to life near humans! Just yesterday I saw a hawk trying to swoop away with a pigeon it had killed, right in front of some townhouses around the corner.