Wild Things (Rabbit & Snakes & Hawks, Oh My!)

Although this is officially metropolitan Nashville, I live far enough away from downtown that wild animals roam rather freely.

You may have already read about Chuck, the groundhog, and the other variety of squirrels, but I have also seen snakes, rabbits, opossums, and deer roaming through this property on a fairly regular basis. As I see new animals, I try to do a little research on them and end up learning some pretty cool things.

Elusive Creatures:

Bunnies

There must be a rabbit hutch in the thicket close to the creek down my driveway because when I first moved in, every time I pulled in or left I saw a fat gray rabbit hopping towards the trees. He was cute, but I was never able to get a good picture of him. I figured I’d see him again later, but I have not seen him in a while. My sister caught a glimpse of him as she drove up my driveway on Christmas Eve, though, so it is nice to know he (or she) is still around.

Hopefully, my camera will soon catch the rabbit and what appears to be a raccoon who has been trying to get into my garbage bins or the coyote who might have marked my garbage bin as his own territory.

Coyotes

Yep, I said coyote. I was wandering around my house talking on the phone a few weeks ago when I noticed my cat acting funny. He led me to the back window nearest the hill and was meowing. I looked out and saw very furry, pointy ears. I thought it was a fox but then he moved and I realize how big he was. The fat, happy guy was almost as large as a German Shepherd! He was watching something on the neighbor’s property but I guess it spooked him because he ran on up the hill back into the woods. It was a few days after that when I noticed wet “tag” marks above the raccoon prints on my garbage. I figured the coyote might be trying to mark his territory.

Snakes

Toward the end of summer, I was in my office working and noticed something strange in the grass. It looked like a large, white leaf or feather or something.

0906161519
See the large white thing on the bottom left?

Peering through the binoculars, I could see scales and realized it was actually a snake skin. Yikes!

Of course, I immediately went outside to check it out. As it turns out, it was very fresh. Very!

0906161511a
very, very fresh

I used a metal steak  to pick it up and carry it over to my patio. Then I gently unwrapped it. It was still wet so I was able to stretch it out to full length and measure it. It was over 3′ even with its tail piece missing.

0906161641
39″ and it’s missing everything past the reproductive parts (which also prevented me from telling what type of snake it is)

After I stretched it out so easily, it occurred to me that what I saw through the binoculars may well have been the snake coming out of its skin. That is how fresh the skin was. I left it stretched out on the patio and it was dry as dust in less than 24 hours, so when I picked it up, it was very, very fresh.

Needless to say, I watched my step around the yard after that. I had seen a small (baby) snake in the creek out front not long after I moved in. More recently, I was checking on the bird feeder out front and saw what appeared to be another small snake (or salamander) sliding down the hill back to the creek. I guess we are both doing well at keeping our distance from each other.

Hawks

I guess I found the culprit to all those dove feathers still piled up under the feeder from the other day.

Not long ago, as I was working I glanced out the window just in time to see a hawk take a swipe at the birds on the side feeder. I guess he missed because he stuck around for a bit looking for a better angle until he saw me trying to get a photo of him. He stayed nearby for a while, though.

He or she was a smaller hawk with a rounded tail because I first thought he was a large dove, but doves don’t dive-bomb other birds. My guess is a Cooper’s Hawk. One day I will have a camera with a great zoom and so will have a better change at capturing him or her.

Frequently enough I see the larger hawks flying around outside. Just the other day, I watched a hawk land in a huge pine tree across the street. He had a large, white chest and was a very big bird, much like the one I got a photo of in Bird’s Abound:0729161515a

Since he was so large and I have no idea what he’s really after, I was preparing to spook the birds that were taking turns at my feeder so they might escape. Fortunately, he ended up flying around the side of the house. He sometimes perches in some of the trees in the back but as soon as he sees me watching him, he flies away.

I am sure the upcoming colder months will provide hours of new entertainment. I wonder what else is out there that I haven’t seen yet!
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