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Wild Animals in My Back Yard

Updated on August 20, 2014

And maybe a few others

These are photos of the various wild animals that have appeared in our yard. Most of them were taken by me, on our property. If not taken there, I will say so, but the reason for selecting these other photos is because I didn't get good photos at home.

The photo on the left is a coyote. Coyotes will interbreed with dogs, just like wolves will. They're really all dogs, just some of them are wild. I have never gotten a DECENT photo of a coyote on my property, so the photos of coyotes are from elsewhere.

Coyote again - Canis latrans

Coyotes are out mostly at night, though you can see them during the day. Lunch is served at night, however. You are more likely to see them near dawn or dusk.

When I see them during the day, they're interested in avoiding me, so they run off.

At night, coyotes will gather in packs and do a lot of yipping. When we hear that, we say, There goes the Howl-leluia Chorus!

Javelina - Pecari tajacu

Also known as Collared Peccaries, but everyone calls them Javelina, which is the Spanish name. They are hoofed animals, not pigs.

They are said to be vicious when cornered or when they have young with them. They have fairly large tusklike teeth, so they can tear a hole in you. Otherwise, in my experience, they'll leave you alone.

One summer, food was scarce because there had been no rain for quite awhile. They were a lot bolder then. We knew they were stealing the grain we were putting out for the birds. I would see them down where I used to throw the grain, so I'd take the car down and honk at them. They would run around the barn.

One day, I was throwing out the grain, and I had a small bucket in my hand, oh, about 5" in diameter at the top, and proportioned like buckets generally. I turned slightly, and there was a Javelina right there next to me. He was waiting to steal grain. So I bopped him across the nose with the bucket. He trotted off. Not long after, here he comes again. This time when I turned in his direction, he trotted off again. I never had any trouble with them stealing grain after that. I wouldn't have minded except they can eat a lot of grain.

One day, I decided I wanted some photos of them. So I got some old banana peels, put them on the ground, and sat on a railroad tie that was on the ground about six feet away. Pretty soon they came, four of them, and I got my pictures. They never paid any attention to me.

I have been within six feet of a Javelina with an older youngster, and that one didn't bother me, either.

Another time, I had a bunch of old food from the refrigerator I wanted to throw on the compost heap. I went out there with all the food in a bag, and there were five Javelina in the area. They'll eat anything, I think. They all sat down in a big semi-circle and waited there patiently for me to dump the food, and then they helped themselves.

Bobcat - Lynx rufus

My husband has seen a Bobcat walk behind the house just outside the window. I haven't seen a Bobcat on the property, but I have seen them in the wild. One time when I was looking for an American Bittern, I saw two Bobcats instead. This picture is from elsewhere.

Mule Deer - Odocoileus hemionus

I see Mule Deer frequently in the wild, and have been as close as five feet away. Though I understand they can take exception to you, they don't bother me. I am quiet and I don't threaten them. This particular one was on our property in the evening as I returned home.

We see up to three at a time. We rarely see stags with a rack, though.

Cottontail Rabbit - Sylvilagus audubonii

I see these frequently as well. When I used to put out seeds for the birds, this particular rabbit would come help himself. So I took his picture.

I also often see them at Sweetwater Wetlands (and elsewhere) when I am birding, and sometimes I take their picture there as well. The photo below was taken after dark. I aimed with a flashlight and used my camera flash. I was hoping to see the resident Bobcat, but this Rabbit stopped by and told me he wasn't home. I like the glowing eye, so I left it in the photo.

Spotted Skunk

Spilogale gracilis

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of this one. I never had my camera with me, and I was more interested in staying out of his way. The skunk is smaller than a striped skunk, but we were to find out HOW small. He kept coming into the mobile home we had on the property. He was getting in through a hole in the cabinet that had been made to run the sink pipe through. At first, we weren't quite sure what he was. But pretty soon, we figured it out. This fellow was coming in regularly for a period of several weeks. We don't stay in the mobile home during the day. We had one cat there at the time, so we shut him up in a room so he wouldn't tangle with the skunk. What we DIDN'T know is that the skunk was small enough to slip UNDER the door. There was about an inch of space between the bottom of the door and the floor, and that was big enough. So what we were REALLY doing was shutting the cat in WITH the skunk. Oh dear!

We started blocking various places where he was coming in. By the time we finished, we had a row of concrete blocks on the floor all the way around the cabinet with the bathroom sink, and still he got in!

One day, we found him in with the cat, and we opened the door, and we were trying to figure out how to encourage him to go leave under the bathroom sink. Eventually, he wandered out there and did so, but he kept sticking his nose out of an opening.

I eventually learned that if I put borax on the ground under the mobile home, he wouldn't come in. I spread it around the water pipe that went inside. After several weeks, we never saw him again.

He never sprayed. He didn't seem to be particularly afraid of us, and I imagine he was actually someone's lost pet, and couldn't spray anyway. But I'm glad we didn't find out differently.

Here is some information about the Spotted Skunk

The photo is in the public domain.

Rock Squirrel - Otospermophilus variegatus

These pesky squirrels used to come around and empty my bird feeder (several pounds of grain), regularly. I got this picture at Montezuma's Well, and he wasn't the least afraid of me. He ran off when someone else brought a dog. I'm showing you this one because it is an exceptionally clear photo.

The next few photos show a squirrel in the act of robbing me. One day, he got so enthusiastic, he wound up INSIDE the bird feeder. After taking his picture, I drove him a couple miles away and released him. He didn't return.


Would you like to see large wild animals like this in your back yard?

Red Fox

I have seen these little guys around in various places. I haven't been lucky enough to catch them with my camera in the wild, though. Last time I saw one was up on Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalinas.

Somebody asked me how I got this photo. I actually got it at the Desert Museum. I'm not above taking a good photo of an animal in a natural setting, though in captivity. Usually, they don't know they aren't free, and live happy lives, because the setting is right. If you see an animal in a small cage, pacing, that's an unhappy animal.

Animals Not Yet Seen in My Yard - Mostly

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mountain Lion. Seen in the area, but not yet in my yard.Mule Deer. Seen in my yard, but this is a better picture.Bighorn Sheep. Live at higher altitudes.Ocelot. Rare. Seen mostly in Mexico.Prairie Dog. Rare. Not seen in the area.Raccoon. We probably don't have enough water for this one.Prairie Dog babies.Pronghorn Antelope. Not likely to see this one in the area.Red Fox. I have seen one in the area, but not in my yard.
Mountain Lion. Seen in the area, but not yet in my yard.
Mountain Lion. Seen in the area, but not yet in my yard.
Mule Deer. Seen in my yard, but this is a better picture.
Mule Deer. Seen in my yard, but this is a better picture.
Bighorn Sheep. Live at higher altitudes.
Bighorn Sheep. Live at higher altitudes.
Ocelot. Rare. Seen mostly in Mexico.
Ocelot. Rare. Seen mostly in Mexico.
Prairie Dog. Rare. Not seen in the area.
Prairie Dog. Rare. Not seen in the area.
Raccoon. We probably don't have enough water for this one.
Raccoon. We probably don't have enough water for this one.
Prairie Dog babies.
Prairie Dog babies.
Pronghorn Antelope. Not likely to see this one in the area.
Pronghorn Antelope. Not likely to see this one in the area.
Red Fox. I have seen one in the area, but not in my yard.
Red Fox. I have seen one in the area, but not in my yard.

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

If you go west from Tucson toward Ajo, you will run across a highway (two lane) leading south, with a sign that says, "Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge". It's before you get to the Kitt Peak turnoff. I was down there once, but at the time, I was looking for birds, it was late in the day, and I didn't stay long. What I did find, however, not far from the Visitor Center, is a blind which is the perfect place to set up a camera and tripod to take pictures of large wildlife. I fully intend to go back there sometime and take advantage of it. I can't tell you exactly how to get there, but they can at the Visitor Center.

Here is more information:

Buenos Aires

Friends of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

The photo on the right is a Barn Swallow. I got that photo at the Visitor Center. It was the only new bird I saw that day. He wasn't afraid of me, and he was really too close. I had a 90mm lens on my camera at the time.

Assorted Wild Animal Books

Find them on Amazon

Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks: Third Edition (Peterson Field Guides)

by Olaus J. Murie, Mark Elbroch

The Jeff Corwin Experience - Into Wild Arizona

Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

by Laurie S. Excell

There’s a Bobcat in My Backyard: Living with and Enjoying Urban Wildlife (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Guides)

by Jonathan Hanson


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