Season has brought forth a baby boom of wildlife
It’s been quite a spring season for free-range children.
Just the other day I was sitting in a shady patch on my driveway working on a project when two toddlers suddenly ran right up to me. I could have picked them up.
A moment later there were two more, followed, I was happy to see, by a concerned adult.
Seeing me, papa sounded an assembly call and the four little quail youngsters resembling walnuts with legs, dashed back to the protection of the adult bird.
A quail chick visits the yard.
The brief encounter brought joy to my heart and a big grin to my face. The innocence of the little chicks and their curiosity had brought them to within inches of me.
While the world has been gnashing teeth over social and health issues, nature has endured, and this spring at least, seems to be thriving.
We never get enough rain in Southern California, but this year we were blessed with abundant and well-spaced storms that produced a cycle of plant growth and wildflowers and that means more insects, birds, reptiles and mammals.
That’s been quite evident here on Mt. Whoville.
Quail chicks getting a drink this week.
As spring now transitions into summer, the hooded orioles have completed nesting and their free-range offspring are crowding my nectar feeders. Typically, I may see two or three adult orioles at any one time, but in the past week there have been nearly a dozen at times, either sipping nectar or cackling in bushes nearby. It’s an animated mixture of juveniles and adult bird.
It’s comical to watch the immature males squabbling with their female peers over who gets access to the feeders. They spend more time posturing and debating the issue than actually drinking, often while the other bird hangs upside down under the feeder.
I’m not exactly sure why we have the bumper crop of orioles this year, but several of my birding friends have commented on the same thing.
For now, I will enjoy this addition of bright yellow and black feathers and all the oriole activity until they depart in September for their winter home in Mexico.
Early this spring there seemed to be a swarm of tiny lizards here. Sitting quietly on my patio with morning coffee, it has not been unusual to see a dozen or more tiny fence lizards or skinks scurrying about. Our local roadrunner is very happy about this.
A nearby local pond brought to life by spring rains is a virtual metropolis of critters. Not half the size of a tennis court, I would estimate there were hundreds of thousands of tadpoles earlier this spring, replaced now by thousands of little frogs that launch into the water as you approach.
Even my game camera has recorded the youngsters of spring.
Several weeks ago, an obviously pregnant female coyote was captured on camera as she passed by in the dark of night. A few weeks later I caught one distant image of the now nursing female and two fuzzy little coyote pups. I had to get better images of the pups.
For the next two weeks I moved my camera to likely spots in hopes of getting pup pics. It took me awhile, with an occasional image here and there of a single pup, but this week I managed to photograph three coyote youngsters in the same shot.
The pups appear to have been weaned, because I have not seen an adult with them. They are still kids, with huge ears and feet, but like the little quail, they have a playful nature and boundless curiosity. One shot shows them playing with a bug of some kind.
My secret to success for eventually getting their pictures was placing the camera on the pathway leading to a large garden fountain. As days get warmer, water is harder to find, so my fountain offers a dependable wildlife drinking source.
Soon, these fuzzy little coyote pups will grow into their big ears and feet, and perhaps leave the comfort of their home range and expand into their own territory.
I find it such a joy to listen to the yelps and howls of these native dogs echoing through the canyons in the dark warmth of summer nights. Sometimes it’s a kind of symphony when a poorwill also chimes in with its plaintive night call.
The crop of youngsters of all kinds this spring, including birds, reptiles, and mammals, has provided a pleasant relief during these stressful times.
And did I forget butterflies? My garden is filled with unusual numbers of large swallowtails, painted ladies and colorful monarchs. It’s a good thing.
Right now, the world needs more butterflies.
Contact Ernie at Packtrain.com or follow http://erniesoutdoors.blogspot.com/