evening my husband & I decided to sleep in the
backyard and watch the meteorite shower. Of course our dog
Jenny was sleeping out with us. In the morning when we
woke, we found a dead opossum about 10 feet from where we
slept. Apparently Jenny thought it was a threat to our
safety and silently killed it while we slept.
or bandits as we call them, are frequent visitors to our
cat feeding area at night. It's best to only feed outdoor
animals what you know they'll eat up themselves in the
early evening. Otherwise your food bill could get pretty
high feeding the bandits night after night.
do the cats react to this invasion? Amazingly they just
watch... not fearing the raccoons at all. They know that
they're not food for this stealth critter.
Listed as Endangered by the Federal Government and listed as Threatened by the State of California.
Be happy to get a glimpse of these beautiful animals once or twice
a year. They're very illusive, probably because of their small
numbers and the fact that they are nocturnal hunters.
There are hundreds of wild turkeys in the area. They're fun to watch,
but, like any animal, the males will be aggressive toward humans during
the mating season. Give them a little
distance and enjoy their display
If you're into gardening and having everything look perfect,
don't encourage the turkeys to stick around. They dig under
plants, grab hold of small plants and pull them out, and can make
quite a mess.
nocturnal creatures are omnivorous and very opportunistic. Cat or dog
food left outdoors is a great attraction.
Opossums are little threat to humans. Owls and dogs are their natural
Department of Fish & Game "Biodiversity Atlas"
Egrets, Crains, Great
Blue Herons & Ducks
The Greater Sandhill Crane reaches five feet tall, weighs eight to twelve pounds, and presents an awesome seven foot wingspan.
Three of the seven subspecies of Sandhill cranes winter in the Central Valley of California.
Herons are often mistakenly identified as cranes. If you see a long-legged bird in a tree, you can be sure it's not a crane. The crane's back toe is too short to grip branches.
Herons nest in tree colonies, whereas isolated pairs of cranes nest on the ground.
Great Blue Herons are a lean, grayish-blue heron. The body of the great blue heron averages 46 inches in length and has a
wingspan of 72 inches. This bird is easily recognizable by it size, color, the black stripe that
extends above the eye, and a white fore neck that is streaked with black.
Spring is a great time to see lots of these water
birds around creeks, ponds and lakes. There's a much richer
variety that shown here.
Keep me wild!
Bugs & Stuff
Solpugids, also known as Solifugids, "Sun
Scorpions", "Camel Spiders", "Sun Spiders", "Wind Scorpions", and other similar names, are a type of nocturnal arachnid (not insects at all) somewhat related to scorpions, but
representing a distinct evolutionary lineage. They are especially common in desert regions of the world, including
Northern California, where various species surprise and bewilder people encountering them for the first time. With their huge jaws (chelicerae), they are fearsome in appearance, but have no venom, and if they bite humans (requiring provocation) nothing will happen.
More bugs and stuff...
California, Riverside San Diego County
You see these little guys everywhere. The eat bugs and won't harm
you. If your cat gets a hold of one, the lizard's tail will come
off as a diversion. It will continue to move for several minutes,
hopefully to entertain kitty, while the rest of the lizard
scampers away. They'll grow a new tail in a few days.
Beautiful, Not Dangerous, But A Pain In The Behind
pesky as these bandits can be, they are pretty and fun to watch. I
caught one in the cat food in the shed one night. With no where to
run, he stuck his head in a box (his big old fat rear was plenty
visible) and figured he was hidden.
Raccoons are more brazen than most other animals and will come
closer to humans. The look cute and benign, but don't corner one
or try to approach one. They have long claws, very sharp teeth and
are very strong for their size.
Deer & Elk
This little fawn, only a
few hours old with legs still shaking, wandered in without
mom one evening. It found some brush by the creek and
nestled down in. The speculation is that mom was either
off delivering the placenta (they'll move away from the
birthing area for this) or was off getting a meal. It was
very tempting to "go protect" this little
creature, but we knew nature would take care of its own.
It was gone the next morning, but there was a large area
of grasses matted near where we last saw it. We think mom
came back and nursed it there and spent the night since
there was no sign of predator activity.
prolific all over California. They're beautiful animals and the
main prey of mountain lions. Thus, if you have a high deer
population, you should also be more cautious about mountain lions
in the area.
Elk are not common in the foothills area east of Sacramento.
Both of these creatures are really beautiful, but can reek
havoc on landscaping. Please visit the landscaping
section for details on how to minimize the damage.
Moles & Gophers
These little guys are
pretty shy, but boy can they do damage to your garden and landscaping.
Make sure you protect your plants
from below so you get to enjoy them.
Fun to watch, these are other creatures that like to eat your
landscaping. They're also a prime source of food for coyotes and
mountain lions. Click
here for more details
- Pest Notes - tips from UC Davis
wouldn't think that squirrels could cause a problem, but just as
they attacked this pine cone for it's nuts, so can they attack
your fruit and nut trees.
California Fish & Game -- Specific Pages of
Mammals by Species
Birds by Species
All photos on this site are
copyrighted. Many are available to purchase, however, at