Jan and Danny Hendricks submitted these photos that Danny took of an American Elk (Cervus canadensis nelsonii) Bull that was getting acquainted with their steel deer sculpture named Rusty.

"This curious Bull Elk was checking out Rusty last week," Jan says, "Then he posed, as if he were a piece of yard art."

Rusty is a full-fledged, though rather passive occupant of the ecosystem surrounding the Hendricks household in Bear Valley Springs. Past photos have appeared in Natural Sightings of Rusty appearing to socialize with resident California Mule Deer, and also lying on the ground after a buck perceived him as a rival and knocked him onto his side.

Another time, a doe left her young fawn curled up resting under Rusty's ever-vigilant gaze.

The size difference between Rusty and the visiting bull (also known as Rocky Mountain Elk) is profound, since elk are almost comically large. Moose are the only members of the deer family that are larger than elk, and adult bull elk can weigh more than 700 pounds — as much as a Harley Davidson Road King. And the tips of a big bull's antlers can be eight feet off of the ground. They are impressive and surprisingly large, even when you see them regularly.

Jan says that she and Danny "adopted" Rusty from Robby's Nursery in Bakersfield, and the nursery has a space at their checkout counter dedicated to Rusty and his adventures.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for elk is parahui, pronounced pah-rah-HOO-ee.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.