A couple of my friends may be old enough to remember Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom….( only a couple though)… I have some very fond memories of watching it as a family growing up. Marlin Perkins’ voice will always be a nostalgic memory for me.
Our state has an incredible amount of wildlands and wild life that inhabit them. Most people who know me, know that I love wildlife. I’ve lived in the country on and off for a long time, and have seen all kinds of wildlife, especially here in Washington, we have so much open space, mountains, rivers, ocean, high desert. Our current home, is semi-country. It feels “country”. We’re on just shy of 3 acres, mostly wooded on a gravel road in unincorporated King County. We’re surrounded by agriculture and open space but still close in to “town” roughly an 8 min drive to the grocery store.
Since we moved here over a year ago, we’ve seen so much wildlife. The area really displays the urban-wildland interface and shows how all the different species, including humans and domesticated animals, live together.
Here’s an aerial view of where we live:
We are “connected” to both the wilderness and the less civilized world…..
Some of the wildlife we’ve seen are common to the urban environment, while others are very wild. Of course we have birds showing up regularly. Here’s a list of birds that we’ve actually seen here in just over a year, I’m sure I’ve missed some and or haven’t actually seen others:
|American Crow||House Finch||Varied Thrush|
|American Goldfinch||Mourning Dove||Western Scrub Jay|
|American Robin||Northern Flicker||Western Tanager|
|Anna’s Hummingbird||Northern Saw-Whet Owl||White Crowned Sparrow|
|Bald Eagle||Olive-Sided Flycatcher|
|Band-tailed Pigeon||Pacific Wren|
|Barred Owl||Pileated Woodpecker|
|Black-capped Chickadee||Pine Siskin|
|Black-Headed Grosbeak||Purple Finch|
|Brown Creeper||Red-breasted Nuthatch|
|Cedar Wax-wing||Red-breasted Sapsucker|
|Chestnut-backed Chickadee||Red-tailed Hawk|
|Common Raven||Rufous Hummingbird|
|Cooper’s Hawk||Sharp-Shinned Hawk|
|Dark-Eyed Junco||Song Sparrow|
|Downy Woodpecker||Spotted Towhee|
|Evening Grosbeak||Steller’s Jay|
|Golden Crowned Sparrow||Swainson’s Thrush|
|Great Blue Heron||Tree Swallow|
|Hairy Woodpecker||Turkey Vulture|
We also get our share of Reptiles, Amphibians and invertebrates:
- Northwestern Salamander
- Western Toad
- Pacific Tree Frog
- Northwestern Garter Snake
- Western Terrestrial Garter Snake
Then there are the Mammals:
- Black Bear (scat only – no actual sightings)
- Black-Tailed Deer
- Cottontail rabbit
- Coyote ( heard only – no actual sightings)
- Douglas Squirrel
- Human ( unfortunately LOL)
- Little Brown bat ( I always think of the little nut brown hare book with these guys name)
- Western grey squirrel
I won’t even begin to get into the spiders and bugs, slugs and snails… though I will mention I absolutely love the fact that since I’ve live in WA ( 1991 – present – [exceptions for months at sea]) I’ve never once seen a cockroach… love that..
I believe we have reached the apex of wildlife though, with the arrival of an adult cougar (see what I did there…apex…groan…) Yes – A full grown mountain lion in the yard. This happened the morning of 8/22/16 it was here for at least 45 minutes.
I was working from home and on a conference call. Suk will sometimes drop items in the airlock and will quork and call until I go out there to retrieve whatever, critical to life (in his mind), item is retrieved for him. I’ve considered putting in a sloped piece of plexi-glass so that if he drops items they will slide/roll back into the aviary….but that’s a future upgrade… along with a water feature, heating and air conditioning… so anyway, he’s quorking and calling similar to an item dropped in the airlock, but then it gets louder and more urgent and non-stop with some scream like vocalizations as well. I am officially concerned, but I’m on a work call….I check the video monitoring and see him in there jumping and hollering and in full attack mode, so I know he’s not stuck in something… he still won’t stop though so I excused myself from the meeting early and go out to check on him.
As I step off the porch and start towards the aviary, I did a double, probably a quadruple take… right out of a cartoon beedeep beeddep beedeepp what?!? Right there between the aviary and the garden, less then 6 feet from the aviary is a very large animal… that is less than a 60 yards from me….at first I was like wow that’s a big bobcat…with a long tail…..wait what? HOLY CRAP that’s a cougar! I slowly backed up and went back inside to grab the camera.. ( not a gun.. I’ve seen plenty of cougars in the mountains just not in my yard, they live here too, as long as they aren’t eating me or my family they do not need to be harmed) , grabbed the camera and went back out and it was out of sight. I walked over there and searched all around (I do not recommend that for anyone, even if you’re a big fella like me – but I did it anyway) no sign of it, and I did look up in the trees as well, I suspect it left when it saw me but for all I know it was just well camouflaged and was sizing me up for dinner but thought I looked a bit tough and decided not to eat me, even though I’m really pretty tender, as you all know.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any footage of him/her on any of the cameras, it was exactly in a blind spot (no longer a blind spot now)…. But it was a beautiful reddish/cinnamon color had a long tail (slowly going back and forth eeeek!) with a black tip for the last ~4″ , it was roughly 5 feet long and 3 feet tall at shoulders. Big Cat! Literally it was awesome!
After I couldn’t find it, I did a full aviary inspection , no damage or concerns.So it hadn’t been on it that I could tell. I went in and told Suk how great a boy he was for sounding the alarm! He got extra head-scratchin’, beak-rubbin’ love!
After I calmed down, I made the report to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, they like to know when/where Cougar and Bear are sighted. Not for any action just to document the sighting.
I also let the neighbors that I have email address for know, as they have pets and or livestock that they should probably be extra vigilant of.
We have motion lights and a “predator guard” system on the aviary but that’s mostly for night time deterrence, not for broad daylight! Not sure if we need to do anything more than what we have, we now know what the “red alert” sounds like…. so that’s probably alarm enough for daytime.
I did have a trail cam set up near that area as well to try to catch video of whatever got the dogs a month or so ago and I did find out that was what looks to be a young Bobcat. Here’s the clip of that cutie strolling past the garden:
So from Southeast King County, WA this is Mikey and Christy signing off for now from our Wild Kingdom!
Until next time
Stay Safe, Be Kind, Keep the Park Clean, Pay it forward, Make a Difference and One Love – http://wp.me/p2RcFA-3Z