Cardinal Red

The brilliantly colored Northern Cardinal must be about the easiest songbird to identify. This pair was attracted to a backyard feeder near the Dragoon Mountains in Southeast Arizona, where I stayed recently. The feeder was situated next to a large brushy shrub and that seemed a perfect arrangement for the cautious birds. They also enjoyedContinue reading “Cardinal Red”

Pincushion Cactus

This week I ventured up a wash that leads deep into South Mountain Park. Unlike many washes that are rocky and impassible, this dry streambed is level and sandy for some way.  I’ve come across owls up here before, both Great Horned, and Long-eared, so I was keeping a sharp eye out. And I did seeContinue reading “Pincushion Cactus”

Sandhill Cranes

The Whitewater Draw Wildlife Refuge is run by Arizona Game and Fish, and they estimate more than 25,000 Sandhill cranes are currently wintering over at the area. The cranes congregate near the marshy shoreline, a sprawling crowd of 3-foot-tall birds, each preserving its own bit of personal space. Beyond the cranes and the marsh stretch miles ofContinue reading “Sandhill Cranes”

Gilded Flicker

I once visited a church in Mexico where workers on scaffolding were hammering paper thin sheets of gold onto the interior walls, “gilding” them. Gilded Flicker have similar glory hidden away on the undersides of their wings. This is a flamboyantly colored bird, and the beautiful yellow undersides of the wings and tail are onlyContinue reading “Gilded Flicker”

Not So Bad: The Butcher Bird

They call Shrike the butcher bird, but that seems a bit unfair. After all, pairs are monogamous, and every spring the male sings to his female and brings her choice tidbits to eat. They search together for a perfect nesting site and work in tandem to gather twigs, rootlets, strips of bark and grasses. Females actually build theContinue reading “Not So Bad: The Butcher Bird”

Nest Building 101

This Curved-billed Thrasher hopped down into the interior of the cactus, apparently working on a nest. She seemed to be using her beak to place and move materials around.  Later, I went past the cactus again to check on her progress. There was no sign of a nest!  Was she practicing? Measuring?  Researchers in Edinburgh were the firstContinue reading “Nest Building 101”

Hummingbirds At Home

When we added a small patch of native plants to our front yard, we not only enhanced a previously bare space, we invited in hummingbirds. Now when we step outside the front door, we often notice Costa’s hummingbirds, colorful and entertaining neighbors. Experts say a male Costa’s only pairs with a female long enough to ensureContinue reading “Hummingbirds At Home”

Winter Flowers Feed Bees

About 1000 different species of bees live in the Sonoran Desert.  Most are solitary and nest in underground burrows or the hollow stems of pithy plants.  The majority of these bees are herbivores, subsisting on pollen and nectar.  Upwards of 80% of native flowering plants in the Sonoran region are pollinated by bees, as areContinue reading “Winter Flowers Feed Bees”