Beautiful Backyard Wildlife

Sometimes when we think of “wildlife” we think of animals from other places—exotic species we have seen in books or spotted when traveling to distant locales. But it’s vital to acknowledge that wildlife exists around us wherever we are. We don’t have to leave town to see it! I was reminded of this in a recent blog by friend and director of Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation (, Megan Mosby, who pointed out, “Many children… can tell you more about the tropical rainforests (as seen on TV) than about the wildlife in their own backyards.”

That’s sad. Not because rainforest denizens are not worthy of our knowledge and protection—indeed, they are!—but because when we focus solely on far-away habitats, we miss out on the beauty that nature affords us every day. Watching a hummingbird bird build a nest… or a lizard hunt for bugs. Taking time to observe the delicate footwork of a bumblebee tiptoeing inside a fresh spring flower. Such sweet moments can raise our spirits and make us feel more connected to the world around us. And recognizing the importance of nature in our daily lives is most likely to inspire us to be good stewards.

In Arizona, where I live, we are privy to the lives of cactus wrens (the Arizona State bird builds “dummy” nests to fool predators),

rattlesnakes (eggs hatch inside the female for a live birth),

cottontail rabbits (camouflage is their best defense),

turkey vultures (with those giant nostrils they can smell carrion up to 50 miles away),

and desert tortoises (the top shell is called the carapace).

Occasionally, bigger mammals like javelina walk right down my street (they stink because of a hefty scent gland on top of their rump).

It’s a special thing to watch animals going about their day and learning a thing or two about homeland species makes them even more fascinating. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you are sure to have lots of precious glimpses of wildlife in your own neighborhood, so get out there and take a look around.  Hey, a hawk just flew past my window. Gotta go see what species it is…

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