Sunday, February 18, 2007

My Ringtail Visitor

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up at midnight, and immediately knew it would be one of those nights. I went to the dining table, turned on my laptop, and began writing an email. With no moon, I could see nothing out the window. I was halfway through the email when I was startled by the sound of something climbing up the house. Then a shape appeared, and a creature lit upon a bird feeder attached outside of the window.

It was a ringtail, sometimes called a ringtail cat. (Although it's most closely related to the raccoon.) I remained motionless as he looked through the window for a couple of minutes. Then he scrambled back down. I forgot about my email, and sat for several minutes with a smile on my face.

We've lived here in this wooded setting for nearly thirteen years. I've seen coyotes, foxes, raccoons, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, a bobcat, and a black bear, but until that night, I'd never before seen a ringtail. He was a cute little fella.

I learned about ringtails at our own little natural history museum, Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Ringtails are fairly numerous in the western U.S., but due to their timid, solitary nature, and the fact that they're nocturnal, they're seldom seen.

Two nights ago, the ringtail came back for another visit. He looked through the window, and actually seemed to make eye contact with me for a moment. The next day, feeling lucky, I bought my first lottery ticket in three years.