White-crowned Sparrow

Lately I’ve noticed flocks of these striking birds foraging on the desert floor, and singing in trees. White-crowned Sparrows hop around, kicking at the soil, uncovering seeds to eat. During breeding season in spring and summer, they establish and defend territories, hunting insects, caterpillars, wasps, and beetles, for themselves and for their young.    White-crownedContinue reading “White-crowned Sparrow”

Prehistoric Insect

Dragonflies are among the most ancient creatures alive today. Fossils of dragonflies date back to 300 million years ago, 100 million years before dinosaurs appeared on the planet. The dragonfly hunts on the wing, capturing prey in basket traps formed by dangling, haired legs. Patrolling the edges of streams and ponds, males hunt, guard their territoriesContinue reading “Prehistoric Insect”

A Teapot of Towhees

Abert’s Towhee is a shy but engaging bird. This member of the sparrow family has one of the smallest ranges of any bird species, making it a prize sighting for birders; and a familiar face for desert dwellers.  Secretive Abert’s Towhees are described in field guides as residents of thick brush in Sonoran riparian corridors, usuallyContinue reading “A Teapot of Towhees”

Hosting Hummers

The desert plant Chuparosa grows in both our front and back yards, bringing in a resident population of Costa’s hummingbirds. Costa’s is the only true Sonoran Desert hummer, well adapted to the arid environment. Hummingbirds lap nectar from tubular shaped flowers using long beaks and tongues. They also eat soft bodied insects, gleaning their small prey fromContinue reading “Hosting Hummers”

Strange and Lovely

In summer when I walk along the desert washes, I’ll often spook a Lesser Nighthawk. The startled bird lifts silently in strange, buoyant flight, more like a butterfly than a bird. But then this is a most unusual bird. Nighthawks hunt at dawn and dusk, soaring low across the landscape, scooping up insects. Unfortunate bugs are inhaledContinue reading “Strange and Lovely”

Coyote Calling

As it weaves through the landscape, only the movement of the coyote catches your eye.  Otherwise these intelligent wild dogs blend perfectly into the desert habitat. They also blend into cities and suburbs, where they hunt in parks and greenbelts.  Living invisibly right outside of our awareness, coyotes make a career of finding food toContinue reading “Coyote Calling”

Summer Heat Relief

After enduring 50 days of 110 degree plus temperatures, it seemed like a good idea to head to higher ground.  The elevation at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is 8,000 feet, and that makes for a whole different world.  Ponderosa pines infuse the cool air and aspens rattle shimmering leaves in occasional breezes. Continue reading “Summer Heat Relief”