My computer is next to a window on the north side of our building. About five feet away is the flat roof of the building next-door. Beyond that are a few palm trees and some restaurants and banks, and beyond those is a flank of Mount San Jacinto. This gives me plenty to look at when I take my eyes off the screen. A week ago a roadrunner landed on the roof and trotted back and forth in front of my window for a bit. Earlier this spring a Costa’s hummingbird would come by, hover in front of the open window a bit, and ask if the cat could come play.
But until now, I hadn’t had any lizards walk past. One just did, using the concrete block wall’s protrusion above the roof surface as a shaded walkway. It trotted past with its tail held oddly, saw me through the window screen and glass and froze.
I went for the camera until I remembered it’s not working, then grabbed my small pair of binocs instead. Only about eight feet away, the lizard filled my view in the glasses. It was a Sceloporus magister a.k.a. desert spiny lizard, a nice fat one, and it peered at me through the layers of window and I peered back at it.
After a few seconds it started doing pushups at me: a dominance / territory display, and one in which I myself have some measure of expertise. The relevant section from that post, for those of you with the tl;dr reflex:
Driving slowly back down the canyon in Annette’s Little British Convertible as the sun passed behind the mountain, I slowed for another granite spiny lizard crossing the narrow road in front of me. It stopped to face me, did some pushups at the little car exposing his blue belly in a display of territorial dominance. A few years back in the Grand Canyon I was lying on my stomach in the shade of a cottonwood and saw the granite spiny’s cousin, the desert spiny lizard, a foot in front of my eyes on the tree trunk. He did the same lizard pushups at me. His belly was green, a shiny olive color. It occurred to me as I lay there that my shirt was the same color as his display patch, and I did a few pushups right back at him. His eyes seemed to get very wide, and he did a few extremely hurried head bobs at me before he ran away. The granite spiny today brought that to mind, and if Annette’s Blue Mini had low-rider hydraulics I might have tried for a repeat performance. But we merely stalemated there for a few seconds until he wandered off the other side of the road.
Today’s spiny lizard did those pushups at me for a moment, then lowered the base of its tail almost to the cinderblock and looked at me. It took a moment to realize what he was doing. He was taking a dump. Whether to accentuate his territorial claims, or just because he had to, or a little of each, there it was — a whitish wet spot on the wall just outside the window.
And then he* bent his tail up along his left flank so that the tip was near his nose, sat down on the wall and goddamn scooched along the wall like a doberman with an annoying post-prandial itch. He did this until he’d moved about a foot. Then he lifted his tail over his head and ran away.
* I just realized I’ve switched from neuter to male pronouns here, perhaps out of a stereotyping assumption that females don’t use balconies as toilets.