"Who Lives Here?"
"Who lives here?"
Saraphina said, pointing
at a hole in the leach field
for the septic tank that
also served as habitat
for local wildlife.
Her new favorite book
came from a series about
animals and where they lived.
They had started with one
about mixed habitats and
then found one on deserts.
"What do you think?" Aidan asked.
"Prairie dog!" said Saraphina.
She'd seen some at a zoo.
"I don't think those live around here,"
Aidan said. "We do have ground squirrels,
but let's take a closer look."
He'd already spotted the signs
with the ease of long experience,
and crouched down to show her.
"Now if we had ground squirrels,
we might see their little paw prints
or fresh dirt kicked up," said Aidan.
"If it was empty, there could be leaves
or spiderwebs over the entrance."
"What's this?" Saraphina said
as she bent over a white streak.
"That's owl poo," said Aidan.
"It has a special name, whitewash,
because it looks like white paint."
He stood up to look around,
and Saraphina followed him.
Soon he found what he was
looking for. "See this?" he said,
toeing an owl pellet of rodent remains.
"Wi," Saraphina said.
"When owls eat, they swallow their prey whole,
then barf up the stuff they can't digest, such as
the fur and bones," Aidan said. "Now I think that
burrowing owls have moved in here and eaten up
the ground squirrels we used to have."
"Aww," said Saraphina.
"Well, it's sad for the squirrels, but
happy for us and the owls," said Aidan.
"Ground squirrels would gobble up our garden
and our new fruit trees. Owls eat the squirrels,
along with other rodent pests such as mice.
When we support animals, they support us."
"Nice owls?" Saraphina said.
"I think so," Aidan said. "We can
watch for them around sunset when
they're most active. They're really cute."
He looked around the leach field,
a barren-seeming expanse of
native grasses and a few wildflowers.
"There aren't any good perches
around here, though," he mused.
"I bet the owls would like a drink, too.
I'll look for some fallen branches or driftwood
to make a perch and a birdbath stand."
"Me too," Saraphina said.
"Of course you can help," Aidan said
as he picked her up and carried her
back toward the house. "Do you want
to come with me to Conchetta's and
pick out a bowl for the birdbath?"
"Bèl?" asked Saraphina,
banging her heels against his hip.
"Yes, I'm sure she'll have
a pretty one," said Aidan.
"Don't kick, please."
Behind them, a burrowing owl
poked its head out for a moment,
then disappeared back into the hole.
* * *
Conchetta Patino -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short dark hair going gray. She is a ceramic artist who lives near Aidan.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Grandmother, Expert (+4) Potter, Good (+2) Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Dislikes Disposable Goods
* * *
A leach field is part of a septic system. You can grow some plants over one, but not trees. Consider regional wildflower mixes, drainfield grass blends, or septic mixes of grass and flowers. Aidan's leach field ordinarily looks like this, a nearly barren expanse of dirt, grass, a few wildflowers, and that's a California sycamore above the bench. After a good rain, however, it bursts into spectacular bloom for a few weeks.
The Who Lives Here? books include forest and desert titles.
California ground squirrels are considered pests.
Burrowing owls are charming little predators.
Learn how to identify the burrows of ground squirrels and owls.
wi -- yes
-- Haitian Creole Dictionary
Permaculture uses natural predators to control pests in food forests and other sites. Burrowing owls and other owls may be attracted by making your yard hospitable to raptors.
Perches for raptors may be made from wood or artificial materials. T-shaped and post perches will appeal to different birds.
Water is essential for attracting birds and other wildlife. Birdbaths may use driftwood for a rustic feel. This is Aidan's birdbath.
bèl -- pretty
-- Haitian Creole Dictionary