the uninvited guest

Another day passes with me doing next to nothing. I’m extremely good at that and, in fact, that’s how I wanted to spend my retirement. Doing nothing, with my wife and the dogs. Instead, I do nothing with her dog, who’s even better at doing nothing than I am.

I do have this grandiose plan to semi-master the DSLR camera this winter, taking pictures of snow (“this is the snow on the roof, this is the snow on the patio, this is the snow on the garden, this is the snow that fell yesterday and this is the snow that’s falling now…..”), but meanwhile, when I can drag myself out of the house, I carry the Coolpix and, this afternoon, took these pictures for no reason at all.

Here’s Yucca rupicola from south-central Texas. Some genius at making up common names decided to call it the twisted-leaf yucca. The green color of the leaves adds a garish touch to a dry garden, though this yucca does like a little more water than most yuccas (it doesn’t get it). And, yes, there’s a posterior in the picture; a steel javelina.

Yucca rupicola

And its relative, Yucca pallida from east-central Texas. Also likes more water than it gets here. Both these yuccas tolerate snow lying on them for months. (Some species will tolerate cold but can’t tolerate a huge pile of snow on them; the leaf cuticle breaks down, and the plants rot.) I’m also growing the near relative, Y. reverchonii, also a Texan, but don’t know about its snow tolerance. Don’t really want to know, either.

Yucca pallida

I was sitting at the laptop, staring at the yucca pictures, when a loud, repeated bird call came from the back yard. One I’d never heard before. Walked out to where I thought the sound was coming from, with the Coolpix in hand, and there was a Cooper’s hawk in the apple tree. The alarm call is here at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

I tried to get a picture of the hawk, but it was hopping from branch to branch, and I came face to face with the object of its alarm. This is becoming a regular feature of the garden. The owl didn’t want to stand still for its picture and was bobbing its head up and down, looking at the hawk. Tried to get closer but it flew off, with the much smaller hawk in pursuit.

The Cooper’s hawk is up in the apple tree, just out of the picture at top right.

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4 Responses to the uninvited guest

  1. P.V.L. says:

    Is that owl for real or do you have a fake one that you just keep moving around to various spots?! I’ve never known an owl to appear so often in the daytime, much less repeatedly pose for its picture to be taken! 😉

    • paridevita says:

      Totally for real. I believe there is a pair of them, since there’s always been a pair of owls here. They start hooting about 1 in the afternoon, which is strange, but this has been going on all summer. Someone suggested they have fledglings around, but it seems awfully late for that, and I haven’t seen any evidence of that. A likely reason for this behavior is the dryness of the open space behind the house and the superabundance of highly edible rabbits.


      • P.V.L. says:

        Do you find owl pellets w/bunny bones?
        (p.s. I knew it was real, but still can’t believe it’s so visible, so often. What species? if you said, I missed it. Totally love your blog, btw.)

      • paridevita says:

        Thanks. It must be Bubo virginianus. I looked for pellets just this a.m. and found nothing, but there are rabbit parts scattered all along the path by the creek. That could be coyotes, too.


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