Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The greatness of a nation

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Mahatma Gandhi -1869 - 1948 (at least the quote is attributed to him).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Red-tailed hawk in the backyard

I watched this Red-tailed hawk from my office window for quite some time this afternoon. They're big (around 24") and usually the hawks spotted perched on telephone poles. This one seemed as interested in preening itself as it did scoping for an early dinner.

I've never seen a Red-tailed hawk fly in near my feeders. They don't have the ability to maneuver in close quarters like some of the other smaller birds of prey--they're kind of the SUV of the raptor world.

Red-tailed hawk
Red-tailed hawk in the back yard.

Red-tailed hawk
Close-up of Red-tailed hawk.

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The companion of solitude

I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.

- Henry David Thoreau - (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) American author, poet, philosopher

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Indiana Jones and the mouse is in the house!

This morning, I noticed that Galen was fascinated by the vase next to the TV. Normally it sits ignored, but today the cat was nosing all around it. If his ID tags hadn't been clinking against its side, I might not have even noticed how very interesting the vase had become. The cat was rather comical to watch as he stood up on his hind legs trying to poke his head into the narrow opening.

Purple vase
Purple vase - a.k.a. cat avoidance vessel

Now curious myself, I walked over and peered into its dark depths. I thought I saw something, but I couldn't be sure. Off I went to get a flashlight while Galen kept up his vigilant pacing. When I returned, flashlight in hand, he was now crouching on the TV stand swinging his paw deep into the vase to see if he could scoop something out--but what?

At the end of the beam cowered a little (and I mean tiny) mouse. I have no idea how it ended up in the vase. I know there are critters in the walls so perhaps it emerged from all the wiring behind the entertainment center and in an effort to try to escape the cat, flung itself--Indiana Jones style--into the relative safe haven of the vase. Although the vase provided refuge from the cat, the mouse was definitely stuck in there.

Fortunately for it, (I think) the mouse was trapped in MY house.

Much to Galen's annoyance, I picked up the vase with the intent to fling the mouse to safety from the catio. I stopped myself though. "This is silly. Why would I fling it from the balcony when I can just set it outside on the ground?" (For the record though, the mouse would have been fine with the fling.)

Out the front door I went, vase in hand, and I shook the scared little mouse onto the walk where it took one second to collect its wits and off it scampered into the rocks and grasses. Mission accomplished. I went back inside.

About ten minutes later, I happened to look out the front door only to see a huge snake where I had been standing just minutes before making the mouse deposit. Annoyed with the thought that I might have just served up its Sunday brunch, I went outside to take a closer look.

Although the snake appeared to have a rattle, it didn't have the familiar black bands along its tail that easily identify many desert rattlesnakes. Instead, its tail had a thick black band, and it was more green instead of the familiar shades of brown of the more common Western Diamondback. However, more importantly to me, it wasn't snacking on anything.

Back inside, I took a quick glance through my Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona and I found a match. The snake was suitably named--a Black-tailed rattlesnake. And, of course, poisonous. A few minutes later, the snake was gone.

Black-tailed rattlesnake - September 9, 2012
Black-tailed rattlesnake

I like to think that Indiana Jones escaped the snake too. Meanwhile, Galen spent much of his afternoon ever hopeful for a rematch...

Galen hunting for mice.
Galen tipped over the vase looking for the mouse.

Hunting for mice
He was convinced it was still around somewhere...

Purple vase
If he just waited quietly...

Purple vase
He SMELLS mouse!!!

Hunting for mice.
Maybe they come in through the fireplace?

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.