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”

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”