Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wildlife in suburbia


Suburbia .... I gather that it's considered much cooler to live in an urban environment, where you can walk to coffee shops and food carts, ride your bike to work, and all that. Meanwhile, suburbia is the land of SUVs and 2.5 kids.

But apart from the livability advantages that suburbs can offer for families with kids (yards, parking, generally strong public elementary schools), they are also aesthetically pleasing in the Pacific Northwest.

This is especially true where I live. The development touched as little of the native trees and environment as possible, so it looks nothing like the hideous display in the nearby picture. I basically live on the edge of a natural forest. And it's a forest that teems with wildlife, and wildlife being wild, we get visits from North American critters - sometimes even in our backyard!

For all I know, we have snakes in our grass, but they wouldn't be easy to spot. I do see them occasionally when I go running, though.

Enjoying the sunshine
So hot even the snake had to shed its skin

I've also seen a coyote on a run, but when I followed it a bit to try to take a closer picture, it scurried away into the forest, so I can't show you what it looked like. But we see them once in a while. Another time, a coyote scampered across our backyard. My wife was mildly concerned, my dad thought it looked beautiful, and I thought it was immensely cool that we had a coyote in our backyard.

Raccoons, too. This one popped out at night:

"You looking at me?"

Deer, of course, are quite common in North American forests. Like coyotes, they seem quite adaptable to human civilization.

Seen while running

I came across the two little guys (girls?) in the picture below earlier this afternoon. I pulled into the driveway and thought I saw a dog in our sideyard. When I got out to examine, I saw that there were two deer calves, smaller than a full grown retriever. They ran behind the bush to hide from me. I managed to get this picture with a full zoom on my smartphone a full moments later.

"Where's Mommy?"

Despite my backing away and leaving them plenty of room, they wouldn't leave that corner. So I went inside and was prepared to open the gate from the backyard, because I know that deer sometimes cross from our backyard to other yards. When I opened the back door, I saw why the calves were hanging around:

"Come here, babies!"

I am still not sure how Mommy Deer ended up in our backyard separated from her calves. The wooden fence is 6 feet high, so I don't think the calves could jump it, but I'm not an expert. Anyway, I wanted to open the gate so the family could be reunited, but I didn't want to get charged by the mom, and I was worried about scaring the calves ... or being bitten by them. After consulting with my neighbor, I slowly approached the gate from the front side, carefully watching the calves to make sure they stayed behind the bush of safety. I pushed the gate wide open and backed away cautiously. When I was far away, one calf tentatively went through the opening, and then the other.

To be clear, I'm not knocking the urban lifestyle. It has its appeal, and I'm sure there are people who love it. But suburbia has its benefits too, including - at least in my situation - a good dose of wildlife.

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