Leguminous Trees

Most desert trees are legumes, meaning they produce pods.  (Beans and peas are also legumes.)  Masses of spring blooms gradually give way to lengthening seed pods that ripen at the height of summer.  This is just when most species are scrambling to feed families of babies.  The crunchy fare provides sustenance for desert critters includingContinue reading “Leguminous Trees”

Charmed by Chuckwallas

Big and baggy, Chuckwallas are lizards from the iguana family.  All that extra skin comes in handy when a predator such as a red-tailed hawk or a coyote threatens.  Chuckwalla dives into a nearby rock crevice and gulps in air, blowing itself up like a balloon.  The predator finds its almost prey wedged into aContinue reading “Charmed by Chuckwallas”

Tale of Two Turkey Vultures

It’s a bit weird when turkey vultures show up in your backyard, especially while a pandemic rages.   Yet, in late March, a couple of turkey vultures started hanging around on the rocky boulders behind our house.  As we sheltered at home, the massive birds loitered, preened and flew.  With their bald red heads and hookedContinue reading “Tale of Two Turkey Vultures”

Desert Tortoise

By May spring wildflowers have crisped into mere scaffoldings for seeds.  Underfoot the soil is loose and the air itself feels bone dry.  Out hiking, I descend into a dip in the Desert Classic Trail, a place where cyclists speed down and pedal madly up again. I’m startled to see a Desert Tortoise come lurchingContinue reading “Desert Tortoise”

Whose Finch?

Naming a bird House seems wrong.  And because it’s a commonplace urban bird, the House Finch might seem a little boring.  But consider House Finch social life.  The rather plain female keeps her colorful mate very occupied with making her happy.  At breeding season, she assesses potential partners and looks approvingly on males with theContinue reading “Whose Finch?”

Saguaro and White-Winged Dove

Here’s how a cactus and bird join up to help each other out. White-winged Doves fly to the Sonoran Desert from Southern Mexico every April.  They arrive just as the creamy blossoms of the Saguaro cactus are breaking open, releasing their sweet fragrance.  The doves replenish themselves with Saguaro nectar containing water, sugar and protein.Continue reading “Saguaro and White-Winged Dove”