Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wildlife Window

It goes without saying that not much happens within the confines of my little room each day.  Surprisingly, though, if you are watchful enough (which of course I am), there's quite a bit of activity that occurs in the small area just outside my window.

As I previously mentioned in another post, I have recently had a new rabbit living in my courtyard. She made quite a snug little place for herself right under my mesquite tree, and for awhile, she would sit out there for hours every day.

It was interesting to me how she, like me, spent much of her day doing nothing but essentially being still. The main difference (other than that she's healthy and a rabbit, and I'm sick and a human) is that she seemed rather content with everything. As far as I could tell, she was not ruminating about her purpose and the overall meaning of life, nor pondering the why's of what was and what could have been. Instead, she seemed perfectly content in her way of life -- patient, quiet and watchful.

And then I realized there was a bit more to her story. One day, while looking out the window, I suddenly saw that she was not alone, and there was a reason she was hanging out in one spot all day. She was keeping an eye on her two newborns, both of whom had apparently been safe in hiding all this time!

How cute are they?  It's hard to see from the poor quality of the photos (taken through a window screen), but there's a lizard with the two bunnies in that last picture. He seemed to take a liking to them, and the three hung out together for several days.

It was fun to watch as the little ones explored their surroundings and became acquainted with each other. One seemed to be rather adventurous, bravely traveling far in his exciting explorations each day, while the other preferred to stay near home and close to his mother.

I haven't seen any of them in a week or two. Perhaps now that the kids are all grown up, everyone may have moved on to bigger and more exciting things. :)

There are quite a few round-tailed squirrels who climb the tree outside my window each day as well, looking for mesquite beans. Here are a couple photos of them perusing the branches for some food.

Living in Arizona, I often see a fair share of creepy, crawly lizards as well. I'm not quite as fond of them as I am of some of the other creatures who roam outside, but they are still interesting to look at from a distance...

And of course, the tree and feeders still attract lots of birds. My favorites are the cardinals and finches. I love how they brighten the desert with their joyful songs and vivid colors. Here is a yellow goldfinch sitting on one of the mesquite tree branches, waiting patiently for his turn at the feeder.

But my most interesting visitor of late was one that actually took me a bit by surprise. I was laying here in bed (that's not the surprising part) listening to an audio-book when I suddenly heard a bit of a thud. I looked up and saw something had perched itself onto the screen of my window. It was hard to make out exactly what it was at first, as it was in a bit of an awkward position:

Contrary to what it looks like, that's not a giant bird hanging upside down from a tree branch. :) He's moving himself around on my window screen.

It wasn't until the bird settled himself and peeked in to look at me that I realized this was not an ordinary bird. It was an elf owl!

Elf owls are named after their small size, often just 6 inches in length. They are the smallest owls in the world. They are also nocturnal, and typically nest in natural tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes of saguaro cacti. It is therefore very rare to ever see them in the daytime. In over a decade of living in the Southwest, this was my first glimpse of one. Not that I actually get out much, of course, but still.  It was quite a treat.

We stared at each other for awhile, and I'm not sure who found the other more interesting.

After his curiosity was apparently satisfied, he decided to do a little dance of sorts before flying away.

I've also had another bird who seems to like to peek in on me every now and then. For two days straight, he would fly to my window and seem to look inside, chirp at me, then fly away and come back for another look a few seconds later. This actually went on for hours and hours. It was hard to get a photo of him as he moved around so fast, but here is one of the few I snapped as he was checking me out (or, more likely, admiriing his own reflection). 

Peeping Tom

Anyway, so there you have my most recent excitements in my very non-exciting world.

I'm hoping more excitement is soon on its way, this time in the form of a certain paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I could use some really good news.


  1. Laurel a wonderful post. I am so pleased you have such friends to entertain you but all credit to you for such a wonderful post.

  2. Laurel,

    That's quite a show right outside your bedroom window. I especially loved the owl. What a treat!!

    There is something very soothing (at least for me) about observing wildlife especially when you are stuck in bed. Not to mention what a wonderful diversion from reading or watching television.

    You reminded me that I need to get another hummingbird feeder. I am not able to enjoy looking out my window quite as much since I sold my house but I can still enjoy the hummingbirds!


  3. wow what lovely wildlife you have in your garden. I have 3 rabbits & there are many wild ones but they don't get that close! I saw 3 Herans the other day & we have a resident barn owl. Hope you are feeling ok today. Gentle hugs x

  4. Great wildlife observation and photos. I think it's important to realize we share this planet with so many non-human others. When we're ill and forced to slow down, we get to notice some of the little things others take for granted or just don't have time for....I know what you mean about the article - me too

  5. It's amazing what you can see from your window. You are so lucky!

  6. The world at your window! What a great post. I loved the pic of the elf owl looking straight at the camera.

    Here where I live (on the coast in rural UK) there is a plethora of wildlife - and some not-so-wild. At the moment the birds and butterflies are plentiful and I just love watching them. We also have rabbits, but not just outside the window. We do have sheep though!

  7. Laurel! I so needed this today! Your narration had me in stitches! What a hoot!

    It is amazing to me the "Wild Kingdom" you have outside you window!

    The Elf Owl was amazing. I'm not sure I have actually ever seen one!

    I love the way the animals were 'checking in on you'. I wonder what THEY were thinking! Ha ha!

    I hope the next few weeks are much better.

    You may be wondering what you purpose in life is but I think you may just be completing one of them right here, every time you post!

    Love and hugs!

  8. How very cool. You know even if you weren't sick I think you'd probably still lay in bed for hours just to watch the wildlife outside the window! I am sooo envious of your view. The most exciting thing I get to see in the day is how Oprah is wearing her hair today! hahaha.

  9. Thanks for the treat, Laurel. It was a wonderful post!

  10. Thank you for sharing all this wild loveliness. The baby bunnies are just too cute for words! But hanging out with a lizard? What's that all about? And beautiful photos.

  11. I so miss being able to look out of the window at wildlife and nature all around me. Unfortunately my light sensitivity is too severe now and have been in darkness since April. I guess this is a lesson for being thankful for small blessings. God bless xx

  12. just found your blog and loved the pictures. For me..nature is soothing...calming...healing. Praying you get better really have a wonderful spirit...Stay strong ok.

  13. So fun! I am worn down with heat and pain- makes we want to go watch out my window and see who's there! :}

  14.'s like a zoo right outside your window! =)

  15. you're so lucky to have all the wildlife outside your window. im lucky to get a fox that howls on most nights and a bunch of pigeons!

  16. Thanks for sharing! I loved the bunnies and especially the owl freak out - how funny! Have a beautiful day!

  17. Just in case you haven't seen this yet good news about XMRV also click on the links within the piece.

  18. Thanks, Joanne -- I did see the news earlier this morning and it's all VERY exciting! I posted a bit about it shortly after you wrote me. Fingers crossed!

    Thanks to all for all the fun comments!

  19. Great post Laurel! Reminds me of our little 'racecare' bunnies we had around here this year. Never was able to get a picture of them, but a few times each day they would come roll in the dust behind the tent for a quick bath.

    Nice pictures of the owl too! Hugs, Lisa

  20. How could I have missed this post?

    I absolutely love it! And I have major animal envy. I get the odd blackbird singing in front of my window and that is sometimes so beautiful it makes me cry. But how I wish I had a whole range of cool animals out there (you can keep the lizzards and spiders, though ;)!

    Thanks for telling us a little about all of them, you had me "ooh" and "aah" and laugh and I liked the gophers and the little elf owl! You were right, it looked like she was hanging from a tree in a very unhealthy way. How funny she threw a little tantrum before she left! I'm sure the reason was that her owl kids were waiting to be fed but she wanted to stay with you!!


  21. I am very late commenting here after doing virtually no blog reading over the summer, sorry - but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed seeing your bunnies, and especially, your little elf owl. I would love to live somewhere with owls!