A Pawsitive Blog About Love for Nature

Backyard Habitat Videos and Pics
Tidbits, Tips & Tails
Nature Calls Fur Action
Pawsitive Thoughts & Inspiration

Wishing all our viewers and friends a very Happy New Year.

We hope you enjoy this special video. It is a compilation of our many wild friends who visited the Backyard Habitat during 2019. Look for Bobcats, Quail (and their babies), Javelina (and their babies), Rabbit, Cardinal, Thrasher, Cactus Wren, Harris Hawk, Fox, Squirrels, Coyotes, Desert Sonoran Toad, Roadrunner, and others.

Happy New Year!

Together for Nature,

Mabel

In our Backyard Habitat, we have a Bridge. It is a decorative feature that enhances our rock yard. It is also functional because it may be walked on.

The Bridge attracts a lot of traffic. Squirrels use it for their scampering antics. Birds love to frolic on it. Lambchop and I like to trot across it.

When Mom first intalled the Bridge, she noticed that the surroundings were quite barren and did not provide adequate cover for the animals who may cross it - as seen in one of the pictures used in the video. Because COVER is an essential element of any Backyard Habitat, we planted some bushes around the Bridge. The animals now have a place to "duck" if a Hawk should target them. Undeneath the Bridge also provides "quick getaway" cover as well as a habitat for smaller critters like reptiles, toads, and insects.

Any Bridge serves as a connection. For me, the Bridge connects me with my Backyard Habitat and reminds me of my love for connecting with nature.

"We build too many walls and not enough bridges"
Isaac Newton

To my friends and viewers, a very Merry Christmas 2019.

Together for Nature. Wishing you Peace and Love.

As we wind down the year, another holiday season appears. Time spent with family and friends is compounded with thoughts of love, remembrance, appreciation, and thankfulness. This is also the time of year for giving.

Mom says that pets provide unconditional love and happiness. Not only is this true but the feeling is mutual - just ask me or any animal. Being embraced with love is better than any ball, bone, frisbee, or treat. Love indeed is the greatest gift you can give anyone.

Loving nature brings happiness to me and my family. For this reason, we do what we can to give to those non-profit organizations that support the environment, wildlife, and pet rescues. There are so many worthy charities it is challenging to choose where to share your money or volunteer time.

My Mom directs a non-profit public health organization and has extensive knowledge about charitable contributions. Not all charities are created equally so my Mom highly recommends vetting the organization before you contribute. Below my Mom provides some vetting tips to help you get the most out of your charitable contributions. Additionally, I provide a list with links to some of my favorite charities.

In addition to giving lots of love to your family and friends, we hope you will consider sharing some with the many wonderful charitable organizations working hard to protect and preserve our wildlife, environment, and planet. ADDED BONUS: if you give to a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization before December 31, you may be able to claim your donation as a tax deduction.

Happy Holidays and THANK YOU for supporting nature!

My Mom and I were so excited to catch a Fox on camera last night. This is the first time in four years since utilizing cameras that we have seen a Fox. Is this Fox as sly as they say and therefore she/he has been able to elude our camera’s sensor over the years? Or maybe this Foxy lady or gentleman was just wandering through the habitat? Or maybe he/she is a new resident. Wherever he/she lives, we hope the Fox continues to live a full and happy life and visits often.

By the way, notice the bigly, bushy tail? That is how we knew it was a Fox and not a feral cat.

Today we were lucky to capture a Tarantula Hawk Wasp on video with my Mom’s iPhone. It is quite the impressive insect that lives in the desert southwest. They have dark blue bodies with orange wings. The females have curly antennae, while the males are straight. While we have read that this wasp can be both social and solitary, we have only seen them flying solo.

Although this wasp’s primary diet is nectar, it preys on tarantulas for their hosts, thus its namesake. If you are lucky – which we have never been – you may see them flying with a tarantula in their grip. The poor tarantula is paralyzed by the sting and becomes the wasp’s host. The wasp then lays its egg on the tarantula’s stomach and after the larvae is hatched it will feed on the live but still paralyzed spider.

The Tarantula Hawk Wasp is also known for its painful bite. Lucky for Arizonans, they are not aggressive wasps. They only sting if provoked and only the female Tarantula Hawk Wasps have stingers. However, they seem to be erratic flyers and we suspect that many people may get stung because they fly into you. My Mom has personally shared many dances with these wasps trying to get out of their way. Like most creatures, they do not want to entangle with humans or roadrunners, the only bird known to eat them.

Dr. Justin Schmidt is an entomologist from Arizona who travelled the world getting bit by insects to gather data for the development of his Schmidt Insect Sting Pain Index. He rates the Tarantula Hawk Wasp as the second most painful insect bite in the world. Dr. Schmidt rates bites on a scale of 0-4, the higher the number the more painful the sting.

According to Dr. Schmidt, the Tarantula Hawk Wasp rates a 4.0 making it a traumatically painful sting. Dr. Schmidt has said that if you get bit by the Tarantula Hawk Wasp it is surprisingly electrifying and that all you want to do is lay down and scream. Luckily their venom will not cause death and the pain only lasts five minutes if that is any solace. To learn more about Dr. Justin Schmidt and his biting adventures with insects, check out his book: “The Sting of the Wild: The Story of the Man Who Got Stung for Science.”

FYI. . .below is a list of the top ten most painful insect bites per the Schmidt Insect Sting Pain Index. My Mom tells me she was bit by three of the top ten. When my Mom was a child, she stepped on a Yellow Jacket Wasp which she says felt like a cigarette burn and very painful. Before she became a bee whisperer, my Mom has had her share of Honeybee stings which she describes as mildly painful. Several years ago, my Mom was sitting on the floor when she was bit numerous times by a fiery mob - Fire Ants that were sneaking in through a crack in the patio door - ouch, ouch, and ouch!

  1. Bullet Ant Bites / Rating = 4.0+
  2. Tarantula Hawk Stings / Rating = 4.0
  3. Paper Wasp Sting / Rating = 3.0
  4. Red harvester Ant Bites / Rating = 3.0
  5. Honeybee & European Hornet Stings / Rating = 2.0
  6. Yellow Jacket Sting / Rating = 2.0
  7. Bald-faced hornet Sting / Rating = 2.0
  8. Bullhorn Acacia Sting / Rating = 1.8
  9. Fire Ant Bite / Rating = 1.2
  10. Sweat Bee Sting / Rating = 1.0

Sources:

National Park Service

Planet Deadly

Schmidt Insect Sting Pain Index

My Mom told me that when she was young one of her favorite programs on TV was called Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. It was a program that featured real interactions with wildlife, mostly predator and prey situations. Some times in our backyard habitat we have our own mini Mutual of Arizona's Wild Kingdom. We were delighted that our cameras captured this cat and mouse game.

Bobcats and Coyotes are real mousers and ratters. PLEASE help us spread the word - NO POISONS or TRAPS of any kind. THANK YOU!

Tis the season for Javelina! Recently we have captured a lot of Javelina footage on our backyard cameras. Per our observation, we see a lot more Javelinas between September-May. Like everyone else, once summer hits, they are not as active and seek cool shelter from those 100+ degree temps. My Mom has told me some interesting stories about her encounters with Javelina.

Several years ago, before I was born, Mommy and my late brother, Lancelot, went walking on a trail in residential area. As they were about to cross the street to pick-up the rest of the trail, a Javelina jumped out of the bush and turned to walk in the opposite direction. Mom and Lancelot froze and did not cross the street until the Javelina cleared. Lancelot, a Brittany Spaniel who had a penchant for barking, was completely still and voiceless while they both watched the numerous Javelinas emerge from the bush. Eighteen Javelinas later, Mom and Lancelot continued their walk.

Because Javelinas are social and family oriented, they travel in a herd – typically 5 or more but it is not uncommon to see 10 or more. The dominant male leads the herd. Javelinas will fiercely defend and protect their babies. While some people may not find the Javelina a very attractive animal, no one can deny that their babies are adorable.

When Mom and Lancelot encountered the herd of Javelinas, they knew to quietly yield to the Javelina since several babies were part of their herd. Like most animals, if they do not feel threatened, they will just continue to go about their business. However, if they are threatened, they will attack – and you do not want to get bit by a Javelina, they have some big chompers!

Here are some WILD FACTS about Javelinas:

It has been a long week. We are still saddened by the loss of our roadrunner. Thus, time for some happy thoughts.

While the majority of my blog posts contain actual videos and pictures that my family has taken, we do find some gems out there that we are enthusiastically compelled to share with you. We hope you enjoy the below video as much as we do!

Happy Friday everyone - and may I highly recommend petting your dog, cat, bird, other pet child to relax.

Enjoy,

Mabel

We are grieving the loss of a Roadrunner that we found lifeless in our backyard habitat a couple of days ago. In our attempt to reconstruct the death scene, we surmise that a Harris Hawk killed him for food, but was then spooked by Lambchop and I as we were let out to play in the yard.

In our previous Blog discussions of our backyard habitat, we have shared moments of fun, beauty, harmony, and joy with all the gentle creatures that visit. We have also shared surprising and what could have been scary moments with finding rattlesnakes. We have not yet shared moments of sadness when a creature’s survival ceases because they succumb to a predator.

It just breaks all our hearts to know that it was Roadrunner, the iconic symbol of the desert. Roadrunners are such animated birds and have always been one of our favorite backyard habitat visitors. However, believing that a Hawk may have been involved, we are reminded of the lessons learned in Ecology 101. Hawks are predators and birds, like the Roadrunner, are part of their food web. If we were to ask the Harris Hawk: “Why the Roadrunner? He would humbly reply: “Why not? Birds are what I eat.”

For these reasons and more, we do not harbor any negative feelings about the Harris Hawk because he was just being a Hawk. Hawks are magnificent creatures that are so vital to the ecosystem that we should never dismiss them. We must honor both the Roadrunner and Hawk.

Ironically, our next Blog post was going to be about the Harris Hawk. A couple of weeks ago one perched on our fence and my Mom took many pictures and a video. We will share these images soon.

For now, we will continue to mourn the loss of our Roadrunner friend – may he forever run wild and free.

Incidentally, a great book about Roadrunners is called “A Lighthearted Look at the Roadrunner” by Chuck Waggin. Charles Amesbury was an artist and writer whom lived in the desert southwest. He loved the desert and all its wildlife as much as we do. In this book, Mr. Amesbury shares his knowledge of and love for these spirited birds.