When we purchase our little 1/3 acre urban lot, we never imagined that we would see vultures eating pizza crust, or hawks and owls siting on our fence. When we first moved in the wildest thing in our neighborhood was the large family of pocket gophers that took pleasure in digging up our yard and transforming our lawn into a dirt desert.

But now our yard is turning int0 a mini wildlife center with a visit from a variety of birds, squirrels, lizards, a nighttime visiting bunny, and unfortunately a few snakes.

The most amazing part of it all, is how fearless these visitors have become. A rather large bird (what type of bird I am not sure) visited our yard for the first time. As soon as I noticed it I grabbed my camera and went outside. Too my surprise it only paused for a moment before it spent the next 6 to 10 minutes combing our yard for lizards while I leaned against our porch snapping pictures.

But probably the biggest surprise of all is the newest visitor to Happy’s little backyard zoo, a raccoon. That is right, our yard has been graced, almost taken over, by a raccoon.

About a week or two ago, my sister took Happy out to make a pit stop. A few minutes later she came in excitedly declaring that there was a raccoon in our yard. Too my surprise when I looked out our sliding glass door their was a cute little raccoon in our yard, only 15 or 20 feet from the little coral that we had created to keep Happy from wandering all over the yard.

With camera in hand I walked to the edge of the porch and began taking pictures. The raccoon turned its head and looked at me for a moment before it decided to climb into the big metal garden box and from their hop into our raised plastic garden box.

Since my sister had already been outside with Happy, I decided to take a chance and go outside to the edge of Happy’s corral so I could get a better picture.

Even though I was about 20 feet away, the raccoon completely ignored my sister and I except to occasionally look at us with satisfaction as it munched away in our garden box.

This new visitor has made itself so at home in our yard, that yesterday, when my mother went out back to start preparing our garden boxes for the move to our new home, she could barely do anything because just as she came outside to work, the raccoon came down from its perch in the tree to find a meal. There she was with shovel in hand, unable to do anything while the raccoon took its time enjoying a meal, playing in our garden boxes, and smiling for the camera.

Finally, the only way that she was able to get some work done was for me to sit on a chair in Happy’s corral and watch the raccoon while she worked on a garden box a safe distance away. Once or twice I had to let her know that the raccoon was headed her direction, and she would nervously rush away while the raccoon paused, and then returned to its meal or play.

One of the highlights of the night was this picture of Happy walking around his corral while the raccoon searched for a meal a a few yards away.

The only time the raccoon reacted to Happy or our presence was the time that Happy gave a loud cry and the raccoon looked up with a startled expression and took off in a panic for the oak tree. A few moments latter 2 hawks flew over head, and after that it was content for a short time it was content to sit in the tree and watch my mother and sister work in the yard.

But after the scare of the hawk wore off, it made its way down the tree, and my mother had to give up for the night. Because as calm and relaxed as this new visitor has been and even though it has not show any aggression as far as we know of, we recognize that this raccoon it is a wild animal, and therefore it is best not to risk letting it get to close to us or Happy.

Happy’s yard is definitely getting interesting. We never imagined when we moved into this house that we would have to put our work on hold so a raccoon could enjoy its supper. Needless to say though, this is probably about the limits of wild creatures we want to visit our yard. We do not mind cardinals, jays, and other song birds. And there is nothing wrong with a late night rabbit or two, a respectful hawk or owl who knows to leave our Happy alone, and even a well mannered raccoon. But somehow I am not sure that I would like a visit from a coyote, bear, or alligator no matter how well mannered they might be.