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”

Strange and Lovely

In summer when I walk along the desert washes, I’ll often spook a Lesser Nighthawk. The startled bird lifts silently in strange, buoyant flight, more like a butterfly than a bird. But then this is a most unusual bird. Nighthawks hunt at dawn and dusk, soaring low across the landscape, scooping up insects. Unfortunate bugs are inhaledContinue reading “Strange and Lovely”

Coyote Calling

As it weaves through the landscape, only the movement of the coyote catches your eye.  Otherwise these intelligent wild dogs blend perfectly into the desert habitat. They also blend into cities and suburbs, where they hunt in parks and greenbelts.  Living invisibly right outside of our awareness, coyotes make a career of finding food toContinue reading “Coyote Calling”

Startled by a Night Snake

I was out early watching for birds in a South Mountain wash when suddenly a small snake writhed and coiled right at my feet.  Sliding smoothly into a perfectly circular shape, it wove its head back and forth like a mini cobra, threatening me. What is it about snakes that scare us to pieces?  TheContinue reading “Startled by a Night Snake”

Saguaro: A Southwest Character

In late July or August, after the saguaro cactus has fed and housed countless species of insects, birds and mammals, its seeds fall finally to the desert floor where they wait for monsoon rains.  The season’s activity began back in February when Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers excavated holes in saguaros in preparation for nestingContinue reading “Saguaro: A Southwest Character”

Not Your Average Squirrel

It seems on any walk in the desert, I see a Harris’ Antelope Squirrel.  Usually the creature runs ahead of me, a tiny tattler scampering off to tell, there’s an intruder afoot!  Even in August, when heat lies heavy on the land, the Harris’ Antelope squirrel can be seen skittering toward the shelter of itsContinue reading “Not Your Average Squirrel”

Hares One For You

See how comfortably the Black-tailed Jackrabbit sits. This is a hare supremely adapted to desert life.  Enormous ears swivel, keyed for danger. He keeps a keen watch above for hunting owls and hawks. At the slightest breath of danger, the jackrabbit freezes, and his dun colors melt into the desert hues.  If a predator advances,Continue reading “Hares One For You”