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”

Butterflies of the Desert

On a recent trip to Desert Botanical Gardens I visited the butterfly tent.  Inside butterflies fluttered about lazily or perched on flowers and leaves.  Seen up close, their colors were dazzling.  Butterfly wings are covered with thousands of overlapping scales, each a solid color, creating lovely hues and the distinctive patterns of each species. ManyContinue reading “Butterflies of the Desert”

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

In our neighborhood grows a beautiful Cascalote tree. When I walked by on a chilly morning recently I saw hundreds of showy yellow blossoms had unfolded at the ends of the branches, and that the tree was alive with tiny birds. Usually tiny birds around flowers are hummingbirds or Verdins, both of whom eat nectarContinue reading “Ruby-crowned Kinglet”

Wren With A Swagger

A bird with a swagger? Yes, that’s the Cactus Wren. This brash songbird makes no effort to conceal his busy occupations about the desert. Nest building is nearly a full-time job, but plenty of hunting is done as well, and Cactus Wren is always on patrol in his territory, singing from a cactus top or scolding intruders.  CactusContinue reading “Wren With A Swagger”

Boo Draws a Glance

This Red-tailed hawk perched on the rocks out back and watched Boo the cat, who was enjoying a supervised breath of fresh air. Boo was oblivious to the predator, intent instead on a wily lizard hiding in the chive patch. What a plump and juicy treat Boo would be! Red-tailed hawks eat mostly rodents, but also squirrels,Continue reading “Boo Draws a Glance”

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”

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”