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THROUGH THE WINDOW Elise Dilci, an eighth grader at Awty International School, observes wildlife, mostly birds, in her backyard in Bellaire.
Many people don’t know this, but all over Houston, there are animals hiding right under our noses.
Our tree-filled, flora-strewn backyard has been a host to wildly different species of animals, ranging from the absurd guinea fowl to a fearsome hawk. We have respected the animals’ decisions for years, and each year their descendants return, mostly birds. For instance, there have been several nests made near head-level in our backyard by a pair of cardinals, our longest residents – the male is vivid red, and the female is golden yellow. They stayed through spring to fall and took leave during winter. They have repeatedly stayed in our backyard foliage for years now. The jasmine on our fence is their favorite place to nest their chicks.
Other birds, such as a red-tailed hawk, a few sleepy owls in the summertime, sparrows, hoarse-voiced crows, wild finches, noisy woodpeckers, mischievous blue jays, and even a wild guinea fowl, have visited our backyard. The first time we saw the hawk, he swept in and caught a dove. Though we could not save that one, many other doves took refuge in our tall trees during the storms. Baby woodpeckers practiced their tradition on our trees, their parents always watching close by. Hummingbirds stood still while bees buzzed and geckos and orb-spiders feasted on flies and mosquitoes.
In spring, quite a few frogs showed up with the rain showers, one small enough to fit on a quarter. Squirrels found the knotholes in our tree to be great nests, one only yards from my window. A number of stray cats took refuge in our backyard, along with our own two cats. They all found it fitting to chase after anything that moved, including the monarch butterflies.
There are so many forms of life out there that you would expect to only see in a zoo or a national park. Nobody has to travel far to find interesting creatures. They have always been living in these spaces. The longer you wait for them to appear, the more you will see.
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