Today as I was walking down our long driveway to get the mail, I passed right by a beautiful barred owl. Luckily I had my camera with me, ready to snap a photo of anything that I might encounter. Actually I was expecting to see a snake, which I suspect that owl was also looking for. No snakes today, so I snapped a couple shots of the driveway which is lush with native trees and plants. Inadvertently I captured that owl in one of those shots, and if you look closely at the photo you’ll see it on a branch down low on the left side of the drive. I had not spotted it yet.

It wasn’t until I was on my way back up the drive that I saw the owl, down low on a branch. I’m not sure who was more surprised — me or the owl. I slowly approached it with the camera turned ON and the zoom extended. My subject submitted to a couple photographs before it silently flew away to a large live oak nearby. No snakes for it either today, at least not from my driveway.

It isn’t unusual to see a snake or a rabbit as I walk to the mailbox, but the presence of all the wildlife is no coincidence. We have provided habitat that attracts all manner of animals, trees, shrubs and plants that provide cover and a variety of food sources. It is a low area that also contains a stream-like drainage ditch that adds an element of water too. Yes, there are snakes. But that also means those snakes, lizards, song birds and rabbits too attract predators like hawks or that owl.

Not only have we allowed a small portion of the property to grow up into a natural little forest, we have also “installed” a brush pile. It serves more than one purpose. It is a handy spot to discard downed limbs and shrub trimmings, and it also provides habitat and hiding places for a variety of animals. 

And there’s one more thing the natural area has provided for us — as if the wild menagerie wasn’t enough! — we no longer have to mow that area. Our little “forest” has not only enriched our lives, but that of a variety of wildlife as well. Welcome nature into your landscape and you’re liable to be surprised at what you might see too.