This is the nicetime of year in Scottsdale/Phoenix--our compensation for suffering through the beastly-hot summers. It's about 65 F. outside at the moment, and I've just come back from my late-morning walk, having had yet another encounter with the local wildlife.
We're about half a mile from the Phoenix Mountain Preserve (a big wilderness area), and most of the lots in our neighborhood range from half an acre to an acre in size, with a lot of unused open ground in and among. Consequently, we see quite a bit of wildlife.
There's a pair of great horned owls in the neighborhood; I hear them often when I'm working late at night. They court in December, so have been out hoo-hooing all through the eucalyptus trees at the back of our property for the last month or more. They're generally at it when I take the dogs out for a pre-bed potty-stop--very romantic to be standing out amongst the tumbleweeds and tywanees (this being a common local weed; God knows what it's really called, but the kids call them tywanees) under a waning moon in a vivid sky of purple-black, listening to the soft hoo/hoo-hoo (males hoot once, and the females answer back, "hoo-hoo") duet in the trees.
I've seen three coyotes since New Year's--the first on New Year's Day, while on my morning walk. He was trotting ahead of me, right up the middle of the street. When he perceived my presence, he looked back over his shoulder, and speeded up just slightly. We covered a good mile in this fashion, him looking back laughing over his shoulder every thirty seconds of so, until he saw something he wanted to investigate and vanished into someone's yard.
I've also had everything from king snakes (wrapped around the planter to keep cool) to raccoons (carefully washing and eating the nuggets of cat food) on my front porch. This time, though, I ran into the Harris Hawks.
Harris Hawks are rather unusual, in that they live and hunt in groups, rather than solitarily or in pairs. There's a family of them in the neighborhood; they sit on the neighbor's giant ham-radio antenna to bask in the mornings, much to his annoyance.
Anyway, I was strolling along, minding my own business, when one of the Harrises flew out of a yard right in front of me, flying low, holding a full-grown rabbit in his claws, still twitching. Now Harris Hawks are not all that big, as hawks go, and this guy was having a lot of trouble getting up any altitude. He flapped madly, rising only a little, across the street, and tried to zoom upward, trying to clear the house in his path. There was an SUV parked outside the house. He cleared the roof-rack--but the rabbit didn't. WHAM! and the hawk let go (perforce) and skittered wildly across the top of the SUV. There was a flutter of wings, and another Harris zoomed across the street and came down on the edge of the house's roof. Both hawks staring at the rabbit with an "OK. NOW what?" look on their faces.
In Celtic culture, seeing various animals, birds, etc. while out walking is supposed to be a portent of various things. Seeing ravens, for instance, is often a prophetic experience, in which the number of ravens seen is important. No idea what two hawks and a dead rabbit portend, but we'll hope it's a fortunate one--if not for the rabbit.