Drama on the windowsill

When we had some dark and drizzly spring days I did not see my window lizard. I thought it would appear after the sunny days came back, but it didn't. I looked for it among the back porch lizards who come to eat back porch flies, but that particular small, grayish, neatly patterned little creature had not joined them.

Sunshine made the back porch gang busy, for flies were plentiful. I knew several of those lizards well. Somehow one had lost a back leg but could move as speedily and grab a fly as quickly as the others. Another had shed its tail during some stressful moment. These lizards have the ability of parting with a tail when necessary. Should a cat catch one, it lets its tail go. The castoff member becomes violently active. This fascinates the cat, who loses interest in the main part of the lizard and chases the writhing tail, and while this is going on the lizard escapes.

A neat trick and neat the way it works. There are little prongs on the tail which were fitted into the rest of the lizard, but I don't know how the little animal makes its tail go skittering off when such action is needed. I keep watching the tailless back porch lizard to see if it is going to grow a new tail , but so far it hasn't. Two others of the back porch lizards are larger and darker-colored than the window lizard, and they all seem to be flourishing and getting along well together.

Then one warm sunny day my window lizard was back and I watched it for a long time. Because of a spot where the screen does not quite fit its frame, both lizard and flies can go inside or outside the open window. On its sill the lizard can be watchful and as motionless as something not alive. After a fly lights, the lizard will not move until it is sure that the fly has settled down for the moment. Then that fly's career ends. Andthen follows another long period of patient waiting until another fly forgets to be careful.

This is enough to watch, but suddenly events grew more interesting. One of the back porch lizards invaded my window lizard's territory and made it clear that he had come a-courting. She was not impressed. On the windowsill her visitor went through the routine of doing his push-ups. I've never been sure whether this is done to interest the female, or to threaten any other suitor who might be around. The newcomer was a handsome creature, a little larger and darker than the lady of his choice. I wanted a closer look at his markings but I didn't want to get near enough to frighten him away.

After swallowing another fly, my lizard became slightly aware of the intruder. She regarded him for a few seconds, hurried along the sill toward him, slightly touched his face as she kept on going. He moved fast but instead of chasing her, he found himself going the wrong way. He corrected his mistake just as she turned and started speeding back, passing him in a flash, confusing him further, causing a strange pattern of behavior. It appeared to be a sort of race , with each going in the opposite direction.

Finally, perhaps in need of rest, they both stopped. He was at one end of the sill, she at the other. All of him was aquiver and his throat puffed up. She was busy ignoring him when another lizard entered the scene. Male lizard No. 1 didn't welcome a rival and gave chase. Obviously girl lizard considered them both foolish and began watching for another fly. She clung to her ho-hum attitude as her first admirer pursued the other up the screen, through the opening, and on out of sight.

The charming female resumed her fly hunting and when the victor returned (did my imagination make it seem that he came as near to swaggering as a lizard could?) she scarcely glanced at him. Both went away when the sun left the window and I was left thinking about how exciting every life is, and how much we human beings miss by not noticing.

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