The European Starlings were decorating their cactus the other day at Granada Park, which I am now considering my “home park.” It’s the closest city park with a lake (2 of them) to our house and it also has trails leading out into the desert foothills of Piestewa Peak, part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.
“I refuse to be outdone by those Starlings!”
So it has both desert and water habitats and the resulting wildlife. I go there at least once a week with my camera. A lot of my photos in the last few months were taken there.
There’s a little hidden area where someone keeps the bird feeders stocked. Unfortunately, the birds hear me coming and fly away before I can get any good shots of them.
Although there are currently migrating Mallards, American Wigeons, American Coots, and Ring-Necked Ducks there, these are some of the year-round regulars that are basically just hybirds and domestic ducks (“City Park Specials”) but I think they are handsome, nevertheless.
I love this guy, above, who looks like he is posing for me. He hangs out with a couple of the big white ducks and geese most of the time.
And a few fun-loving Mallards to finish it off:
*Certain Photoshopped elements courtesy of Obsidian Dawn.
Painted Lady Butterfly
The Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden at Chaparral Park is part of a 12-mile greenbelt through Scottsdale and in the floodplain of Indian Bend Wash. “Its purpose is to provide an educational resource where growing regionally appropriate plants also grows public awareness to reduce outdoor water use, fosters development of sustainable landscaping, and enlists community participation to conserve water resources for our future.” And it attracts a lot of indigenous wildlife!
In my attempt to make our desert~full of birds, flowers, and butterflies~look traditionally festive during the holiday season, at least one photo of every December post I make will feature some seasonal decoration (to go with the WordPress snow). This Rosy-Faced Lovebird was the most Christmas-y looking of the bunch (credit for the lights is Obsidian Dawn, they’re free!).
Female Costa’s Hummingbird
Verdins are tiny (3.5 to 4 inches), vocal songbirds of the desert southwest. This one, above, hangs out in our yard a lot with his (or her) mate. The males and females look the same, which is unusual in the bird world.
They love to drink the sugar water in the hummingbird feeders. As many as we have in our ‘hood, I had yet to see one of their intricate nests…
But when I was at Granada Park the other day, I finally saw a Verdin building a nest. They typically build several nests per year, some for breeding and some for roosting. It’s in a pine tree but they took advantage of the pine cones to make it sturdier, stylish and seasonal. All it needed were some Christmas lights :)
Below you can see the Verdin taking a feather into the nest. Click on photo to enlarge it.
And here he (or she) is emerging. The entrances are usually on the bottom of the nests.
They should have a nice, cozy nest for the winter.
Happy Thanksgiving, hope you all have a special holiday doing what you want. I will take this opportunity to show you a few of the birds I’ve been grateful to photograph this past week. I went to several local parks in the last few days and found a few new species of birds to photograph as well as some old familiars.
The Green Heron, above, is tiny compared to his relatives, the Great Blue Heron and the Black-Crowned Night Heron. He was at Indian School Park in Scottsdale.
Say’s Phoebe, Mountain View Park, Scottsdale
Red-Winged Blackbird, Chaparral Park, Scottsdale
Rosy-Faced Lovebirds, Granada Park, Phoenix
Gilded Flicker (female), Granada Park, Phoenix
American Kestrel, my next-door neighbors’ yard, Phoenix
The following hummers (all female) were at a pretty park, Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden. They don’t look quite like the Anna’s Hummingbirds in our yard so I think they might be Costa’s Hummingbirds.
It’s hard to differentiate between the species with the females unless you’re an expert and I’m far from it.
I saw a male Costa’s closeby but only got a blurry shot of him.
Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Audubon’s), Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden