I used to live on Rotten Row in Cave Creek and fashioned a one acre home for six hybrid wolves I was raising. Being predators, they were tough on animals that had the audacity to invade their space, mostly snakes and Gila Monsters. They adjoined our swimming pool and loved to swim.
Then my friend Jerry Foster put his 10 acre home for sale and I leased and later bought his place. With plenty of space I fenced an acre, built a little home for them and built air conditioner for them inside and also a huge tank of water for them to swim or soak in. The only trespassers I know of were two rattlesnakes which I killed after they struck a couple of wolves (they lived, thanks to a local vet) and a horny toad who lived in their enclave. The wolves poked the toad with their noses and soon learned to leave it alone. We had several horses in a corral and had a couple of wranglers living in our trailer and bunk house.
There also was a fenced space with geese, ducks and chickens. So we had daily eggs from all three. Then a bobcat ripped a hole in the fencing and killed several followed by another invasion by coyotes.
My wolves were 83 percent wolf and all died between 15 and 16 years and they are all missed.
I didn’t miss the horses until a psychic friend mentioned Paco, a white Arab I spent hours with. He was purchased from a local owner because he threw her several times. The psychic asked Shari Jo if I knew a white horse in Texas that missed me. I knew the owner had sent all her horses to a ranch in Texas, but not where. If I knew where I would go get him and bring him home where he belongs. But know I miss Paco.
Our home sits on the edge of a bluff that looks down on Cave Creek, the same creek the town is named after. When I first moved here a neighbor across the creek showed me an ancient Indian shelter and said bobcats had their young there every year and that is the kind of shelter Bobcats use to protect their young from coyotes. We once saw a mountain lion drifting through our area and have sighted bobcats dozens of times. But until recently we had abundance of birds and animals living among us. We never looked outside without the expectation of seeing a living animal or bird. Shari Jo keeps three water sources for them and only an occasional rabbit and the tiniest of birds use them as bird baths now.
We know many animals and birds come for water since after a rain we see far fewer wild life, especially deer.
However, we haven’t seen many deer for weeks now and only brief sightings of Javelina. But we don’t see quail or doves, not one. Last year doves had three nests and that was both Mourning Doves as well as Ring Neck Doves.
Quail are really missed since they are fun to watch. Shari Jo often said, “Look, the Quail are having a coffee klatch!”
Male quail are aggressive and I once watched a male quail run a roadrunner out of yard. The males keep a sharp eye to deny other quail access to their females.
About three years ago a hunter friend called me from Florida suggesting a quail hunt here. I told him he wouldn’t believe it but they have become my buddies and I don’t hunt them anymore. I am not against others who hunt.
There are only two incidents we think might have a bearing on the empty yard. I sat at the kitchen table facing a large window, when all of a sudden WHAM and I saw a Harris Hawk fall down on the porch and it sat there stunned. Lying there was woodpecker dead and bloody. Apparently the hawk had the wood pecker in his claws when he slammed into the window.
We were delighted the hawk came for a drink every morning but after his drink he flew up into a pine tree and hunted.
The other incident was picture sent to us of a bobcat with a dead bird in his mouth from Bill Maliki in Carefree. Is that what happened to our birds?
At first we thought perhaps the birds migrated but we visited friends and their yard was full of quail and doves.
So our game plan is to get a couple of game cameras and find out what is going on out there. The good news is though “our” roadrunners are still with us.