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Missing Clovis

We lost Clovis, our alpha tom cat, Friday night. He was terribly ill, and after much discussion with the vet and soul-searching, we had him put to sleep.

We keep missing little things. Clovis was large & in charge—a benign despot over the other kitties. He checked up on them and licked them regularly (except for Swann, who didn’t get along with him). His best friend was Ruffian, our 65 lb. dog. Clovis used to stalk, crouch, and jump on her, then roll around together play-fighting. Sometimes he would bring her string or ribbon to play tug-of-war. They also napped together regularly.

Anytime you were standing at a sink or counter, you were likely to feel a velveted paw on your hip, and discover a hip-level cat head ready for petting. Clovis was also incredibly relaxed. We could flip him over onto his back in a lap and skritch his belly, grab his paws and shake his leg gently without concern, pick him up under the arms and just look him in the eye without a whiff of tension. He’d just stretch out his nose to touch yours. Plus, being the founder of the Merovingian dynasty (yes, he was named for that Clovis), he was death on Aryan heretics (a.k.a. bugs). I’m guessing it was a spider Aryan that did him in.

Below is a slide show of Clovis photos, including his “lion cut” when he needed a shave; his fascination with Demetri Martin’s Important Things; his love of guitar playing; and of course, hanging out with Ruffian.

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Praying Mantis (Stagomantis)

This charmer found a nice little space on our porch light last night.
Praying Mantis on porch light, Central Texas

common name Praying Mantis (or Praying Mantid)
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Arthropoda
class Insecta; subclass Pterygota; infraclass Neoptera
order superorder Dictyoptera; order Mantodea
family Mantidae; subfamily Stagomantinae
genus Cyanocitta
species unknown
location Central Texas
IUCN status Not tracked
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Early morning local fauna

Seen on the stoop early this morning.

We used to have Mediterranean Geckos all around the house. Since moving back I rarely see them, but I do see this Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus) regularly.
Texas Spiny Lizard on our front porch

Agelenopsis (species uncertain), a.k.a. a Grass Spider. He’s lost a leg, possibly to one of the resident lizards. He’s fairly large; his body is about an inch long.
Grass spider

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Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Frequent visitors to our home in Washington.
Two Steller's Jays enjoying seed

common name Steller’s Jay
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Corvidae
genus Cyanocitta
species stelleri
location Renton, Washington
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Northern Flicker

common name Northern Flicker
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Piciformes
family Picidae
genus Colaptes
species auratus
location Renton, Washington
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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You can’t see it clearly in this photo, but this snake is just finishing off what I think was an earthworm.
Lined Snake

common name Lined Snake
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Reptilia, subclass Diapsida
order Squamata, suborder Serpentes
family Columbidae
genus Tropidoclonion
species lineatum
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Mediterranean Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)

This young lizard was about 2.5″ long, hiding from the noonday sun under a flowerpot when I disturbed him. He or she was kind enough to wait on the wall while I got my camera.
Mediterranean Gecko

common name Mediterranean Gecko
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Reptilia, subclass Diapsida
order Squamata, suborder Sauria, infraorder Gekkota
family Gekkonidae
genus Hemidactylus
species turcicus, subspecies turcicus
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo valliceps)

You can’t see it clearly in this photo, but this snake is just finishing off what I think was an earthworm.
Gulf Coast Toad

common name Gulf Coast Toad
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Amphibia
order Anura
family Bufonidae
genus Bufo; synonym Incilius
species valliceps
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Carolina Chickadee

common name Carolina Chickadee
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Paridae
genus Poecile
species carolinensis
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

We were surprised one day to see a flock of yellow and black birds descend on the feeders in the front yard. They appeared late in the afternoon and were gone that evening; this is the only sighting I’ve had of these birds in the area.

Male, female, and immature birds can be seen below. These are the only yellow-headed birds with a black body in North America, although there is an extremely similar bird, the Yellow-hooded Blackbird of South America, Agelaius icterocephalus.

Yellow-headed blackbird

An adult female
Female Yellow-headed blackbird

common name Yellow-headed blackbird
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Icteridae
genus Xanthocephalus
species xanthocephalus
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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The male of the species. Cardinals were named after the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical officials of the same name.
Cardinal

The female of the species.
Female cardinal in bath

common name Cardinal
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Cardinalidae
genus Cardinalis
species cardinalis
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Blue Jay

common name Blue Jay
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Corvidae
genus Cyanocitta
species cristata
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura)

Below is a Mourning dove with a Chipping sparrow.
Mourning dove, Chipping sparrow

Comparison of Mourning and White-winged doves. White-winged doves are slightly larger, with a distinctive white band on the wing and intense blue around the eye. Mourning doves have distinctive spots on their wings.
Comparison shot, Mourning dove and White-winged doves.

common name Mourning dove
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Columbidae
genus Zenaida
species macroura
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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House sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Also known as English Sparrows, these are not actually in the sparrow family. If you see sparrows taking dust baths, they’re House Sparrows. True sparrows don’t take dust baths.
House Sparrow

common name House Sparrow
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Icteridae
genus Passer
species domesticus
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)

I love the brilliant iridescence of this bird’s black plumage. As corvids, grackles are cousins to the crows and jays we came to love in Washington.
Great-tailed Grackle

common name Great-tailed Grackle
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Icteridae
genus Quiscalus
species mexicanus
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater)

The brown and black birds in this photo are cowbirds. The female of the species can lay up to three dozen eggs in a season—in other birds’ nests.
Cowbirds at the bird feeder

common name Brown-headed Cowbird
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Icteridae
genus Molothrus
species ater
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.

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Yellow-throated vireo (Vireo flavifrons)

Yellow-throated vireo

common name Yellow-throated vireo
domain Eukaryota
kingdom Animalia
phylum Chordata; subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Passiformes
family Vereonidae
genus Vireo
species flavifrons
location Central Texas
IUCN status Least concern
Extremely local species are itemized species seen at our homes: on the actual property, or in the air above it. (Across the street doesn’t count!) I began by itemizing species seen at our house in Copperas Cove, Texas, and later expanded the project to include our home in Renton, Washington.