Life on the Urban Interface–Sharing the Space with the Wildlife

Apologies for not having posted in a while. Between spending a week in the Washington, DC, area and dealing with getting the old place ready to put on the market, there hasn’t been much time or mental energy left over for posting.

Anyway, since even before I moved in, I’ve been asked if I’ve seen any wildlife. Until recently, the answer was no. Folks on the construction crew had–deer, a bobcat–but other than the birds that are around all the time and the lizards that climb the walls as if they were horizontal surfaces, I hadn’t seen anything interesting. At least not on the property.

I had seen a couple of mule deer trying to cross the state highway that leads to the entrance to this development one morning, and a few miles farther south I’d seen a wild turkey hen and her four chicks running along the shoulder. And late on the second night after I’d moved in, there was a pack of coyotes in the yard yipping and howling.

Gobble gobble

Then one day early last week, as I was taking a break from working on my latest book, I looked out the office windows and saw this:

Wild Turkeys Arriving 1

It was the same hen and chicks I’d seen before. I watched them come down the yard for a while longer

Wild Turkeys Arriving 2

then realized I could shoot some video! (There’s no sound.)

They couldn’t see me so they walked around, grazing on wild grass seeds, and finally went on their way.

Wild Turkeys Departing

On the Other Hand…

Not all the critters have been so big or so cool, however. Not long after I moved in, one night I spotted a BIG spider on a wall in the office. I tried to catch it but it skittered away. I didn’t see it again for a few weeks until one night I went to sit on the sofa in the great room and it went hustling off to the other side and hid behind one of the cushions.

Big Spider

If you’re squeamish, you probably don’t want to look at this close-up.

Spider Close-up

The leg-span is about 4 inches across. I knew it wasn’t a tarantula but I wasn’t sure what else it might be, so for the time being I left it alone and the next morning sent that photo to a friend who’s a wildlife biologist to see if she could identify it. She couldn’t–she’d seen them around but didn’t know the species–and suggested I do a Google image search for “Arizona brown spider.” That was real pleasant, I can assure you! So was looking at pictures of wolf spiders. No definite matches, so I just kept my eyes open for this guy with the hopes that I could get him outdoors without getting bitten myself.

Alas, the next time I saw him/her/it, a few nights ago, it was in my bedroom and that was just a non-starter, so it got a squirt of bug spray and I haven’t seen it again.

Before you ask, I have no idea how it got in. It may have been in the house for a long time, having come in during construction when the place was wide open, and never had reason to leave.

Living with the wildlife is (sometimes) one of the fun things about living here. I’m sure I’ll see more critters (there have been reports of a bear in the neighborhood) over time.


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