When we moved to the Philadelphia area many years ago, I was often awakened by the riotous chirping and tweeting of birds in the trees behind our home. Our house backed up to the woods and we would often see a family of deer cross the lawn at dusk. Squirrels were plentiful and they used to torture our dachshund Scrapple by sitting on the deck railing and flicking their tails. One of us would let him out the back door and he would fly down the hill, not realizing that the squirrels had gone up the closest tree.
I didn't really expect to see much wildlife at our home in Texas. An eight-foot surrounds our backyard, so I figured nothing would get in. Boy, was I wrong. First, a squirrel came in through the dog door, resulting in a frantic chase around the house until he left through the front door. A covey of mallards went for a swim in our pool. Andy spotted a possum lurking by the fence one evening (they eat ticks, so that's a plus) and a young bobcat who quickly left the premises. Coyotes are common here and people are warned about the threat to small dogs.
Another squirrel, this one large and clever, chewed an opening in a small metal grate under the eave and got into the attic. It chewed a big hole in the aluminum duct that connects to the dryer. While the contractor was working, the mischievous rodent came down the pull-down attic stairs and waited under our bed. As I was preparing to retire for the night, our dachshund Toby suddenly stood at attention at the end of the bed and focused intently on the floor. The furry intruder ran out from under the bed and ran around the house until we could chase him out with a broom. Not what I needed at 9:30 p.m.
One morning, I got up and peered out the back door to take a look at my perennial garden and saw what I first though was a feral cat. sitting among the plants. Then I took a closer look and saw its pointed ears, a characteristic of bobcats. I opened the door a crack and it took off, letting me see its ringed tail. While it's a little unnerving to see a wild animal so close to the house, I actually think it's more afraid of us than the other way round.
My birdfeeder often attracts a variety of birds, including blue jays, robins and other species I'm unfamiliar with. I often see a mockingbird (the state bird of Texas) perched on the vent of our neighbor's house, singing its little heart out for long periods of time. Recently, a pair of what I think are Rose-breasted Grosbeck have built a nest under our patio cover. If I'm far enough from the nest, I can see them, but if I get too close, they take off and wheel through the sky above our yard, cheeping noisily until I go inside. I'll take birds over anything with fur as a guest in our house and yard!
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.