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 Watchable Wildlife

Kit Fox
Close Encounters

One August 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. 


Raccoons, 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.

How 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 for affection. 

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.  


These 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 predators. 

California Department of Fish & Game "Biodiversity Atlas"

Egrets, Crains,  Great Blue Herons & Ducks
Sand Hill Crain

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 Heron

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...
University of 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


As 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.

Deer are 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.

Jack Rabbits 

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

Rabbits - Pest Notes - tips from UC Davis 


You 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 Interest
Reptiles by Species
Mammals by Species
Birds by Species


All photos on this site are copyrighted. Many are available to purchase, however, at



2008 - Jody & Ric Hornor l contact