The birds and the bees…

… and the reptiles and the bugs and the rodents and all other sorts of wildlife.

There are lots of criteria for deciding if someplace is where you want to live, or don’t.

Oppressive heat or frostbite cold? Humidity so thick it feels like mayonnaise or air so dry that your skin cracks? Tornados or hurricanes or earthquakes? And then there’s the wildlife.

When one of the first things I heard about living in the south was, “You don’t get rid of the cockroaches, you get used to them,” I was pretty sure I would never live in the south. I haven’t gotten rid of them, and I haven’t gotten used to them, but I’m still happy living in Houston. Much of the northeast and midwest will be dealing with the 17 year cicadas this year, and I remember growing up with box elder bug and millipede infestations in Chicagoland. Shudder.

The local news has had several stories lately of gators strolling onto people’s front porches. Now that’s something you don’t hear about everywhere. I have a friend who was terrified that dingo dogs would carry her children away while we were camping, in Texas. That’s something else you don’t hear about everywhere, but there’s no accounting for phobias.

We have more varieties of poisonous snakes here than most places in the US. We haven’t found a snake in our yard since that time in our first house when we captured a snake and then went to the zoo to identify it (and to answer the question, THAT’S what we did before Google). It was a harmless hognose, but when we got home we had cooked it by leaving its prison in the sun.

I’m through feeding the birds for a bit. The goldfinches have taken off, and the hummingbirds have flown thru. The regulars should be able to fend for themselves this time of year. Especially since I saw a huge rat chasing off the squirrels to take a chance at the squirrel-proof feeder. I know we live in a city, and I’ve seen smaller rats many times, but this was a huge, NYC sewer-sized rat. Sorry birds, but this feeder is taking a time out.

We still have peacocks roaming the neighborhood. A lot more up on our street than it past years, I think some neighbor must be feeding them. Husband refers to them as “feral peacocks.” He used to like them until they started pooping and napping on his car.

About 16 years ago we put a bat house up on one of our pine trees in the back yard. The squirrels enjoyed chewing on it. We never saw bats in it, but optimists that we are, we replaced it about 8 years ago. I am thrilled to report that Friday, for the first time, I watched 9 bats swoop out into the dusky sky. Maybe after they rid the neighborhood of mosquitos, they can work on the cockroaches.

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