Ironwood Trees Feed the Desert

Ironwood trees take center stage in late April.  The trees produce clouds of tiny orchid-like blossoms that transform the ironwood into a vision of beauty.  These blooms also attract a buzzing swirl of Centris pallida, commonly known as digger bees.  Male digger bees detect females, still lingering in their underground burrows, and furiously dig themContinue reading “Ironwood Trees Feed the Desert”

High Time for Saguaro

In springtime desert birds like Cactus Wrens and Curve-billed Thrashers perch on the domed tops of forty foot Saguaros, and their calls ring like bells in the desert air. Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers cling to Saguaros’ spiny ridges, peering into cavity nests, drumming territorial calls on the cacti’s green skin, and sending messages with theirContinue reading “High Time for Saguaro”

Ash-throated Flycatcher

The Ash-throated Flycatcher has a call like a whistle being blown, and it always catches my attention.  Usually, the noisy flycatcher is perched at the top of a shrub or on a low branch where it watches for passing insects. I’ve seen them launch from such a perch and dart and dodge through the airContinue reading “Ash-throated Flycatcher”

Desert Mistletoe

We think of mistletoe as having holly-like leaves and hung with red ribbon in doorways at the holidays. Not like that, Desert Mistletoe is one of 1000 species of mistletoe that grow worldwide. Its leaves have shriveled over eons of arid life, to mere scales on jointed twigs.  The flowers are fragrant, but have noContinue reading “Desert Mistletoe”

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”

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”