Wood Vert

I live in a “trendy” neighborhood, meaning the houses are old and a lot of residents and/or flippers are renovating them. Ours is still in the “fixer upper” stage in many ways and I hope to start on some of those projects in the upcoming months when I have more spare time.

Back in June, I had a guest post by Satinder Haer of Zillow and she also wrote another one that I am posting now. Once again, I am receiving no compensation of any kind from Zillow. I’m including architectural highlight photos that I took around my trendy neighborhood.


Why Move to Phoenix?

By Satinder Haer of Zillow
Not many people would turn down 320 days of sunshine each year, and Phoenix residents are among those who take advantage of the long, bright season. Why hasn’t everyone already scrambled to move there? The population of Phoenix remains small. In addition to the expansive golf courses, vacation resorts and desert scenery that makes Phoenix a great tourist spot is a thriving and steadily expanding metropolis.

Chris Art
But the close proximity to travel destinations, sunny skies and the low cost of living might be the best-kept secrets of current Phoenix residents. Check out why you should consider relocating to Phoenix.

Glass bricks
Phoenix is a hub for numerous destinations across the region. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, take advantage of Arizona’s 22 national parks, six national forests and endless hiking trails. Explore many of these outdoor adventures via a quick 30-minute car ride. Or, make a weekend trip out of it by visiting a site outside of the city. Alternatively, snag great off-season deals at local resorts and treat yourself to a weekend of relaxation in a neighboring town.

For those that would rather vacation outside the state, California and Mexico are both accessible. It’s a 6-hour drive from Phoenix to San Diego if you’re longing to see the ocean, or 8 hours to Los Angeles to spot celebrities. Mexico offers Puerto Penasco, less than a full day’s drive from Phoenix.

The sweltering Arizona heat is often discussed fearfully by potential movers. While a few weeks in the summer reach temperatures above 100 degrees, the dry heat keeps humidity levels low; meaning it feels much cooler than being in a location with the same temperature with high humidity.

Josh Window
Don’t let the desert heat scare you off from moving to Phoenix without exploring the upside. Phoenix experiences seven months of glorious sunshine while most of the country is battling snow and rain. The five month “cold season” in Phoenix has an average daily high of 73 degrees. Residents of Phoenix can golf, swim and make outdoor plans without worrying about bad weather for most of the year. Plus, the days are long year-round, with early sunrises and late sunsets.

Wood Slats
Cost of Living
Phoenix has a low cost of living compared to the national average, 4 percent lower. It’s particularly low in comparison to other major cities. Real estate prices contribute significantly to the low cost of living. Home values in Phoenix are 6 percent lower than national values with a median home value of $174,000. Rents, too, are lower at $1,185, while U.S. rents cost $1,367. Additionally, groceries in Phoenix are 2 percent cheaper than the national average while transportation and healthcare each cost 1 percent above the average.

For comparison, the cost of living in Miami is 14 percent higher than the national average, Dallas is at the national average and New York is 126 percent higher. If you’re seeking a city lifestyle without city prices, Phoenix is a solid bet.
In addition to these benefits, Phoenix offers plenty of culture, food and entertainment, too. If you’re feeling the moving itch consider communities in Phoenix.

Yellow House

Red Door


Summer at Granada

Ring Necked Duck

Granada Park, as I’ve mentioned before, is my main “go-to” birding location. It’s close to home, has 2 small lakes (ponds), desert trails, and is at the foot of Piestewa Peak. From November to June, I went at least once a week but, in June, due to the heat, I kinda wimped out and only went once the whole month. So far, in July, I’ve gone twice, and last weekend had a good yield for me. So here are some photos of summer in Granada.

Ring-Necked Duck

This Ring-Necked Duck (drake), above 2 photos, is actually a rarity this time of year in Phoenix. They normally migrate but I saw him (or another just like him) last summer, too, so I wonder if he can’t fly or if he just likes Granada. He has plenty of other park ducks to hang out with but none of his own kind. When fall comes, though, his friends will return.

Flicker 2_edited-1Gilded Flicker, male

This handsome guy appears to have been snatched from the talons of death just in the nick of time. I don’t know if tail feathers grow back, hope so. Bet it hurt but he was lucky.

Kestrel 1_edited-1American Kestrel, male

He might have been the culprit because kestrels are small but fierce.

Common RavenCommon Raven

I never see crows or ravens here but I did.

Goose 2

Goose 1Domestic Goose

This goose is a full-time resident and pretty bossy.

WW DoveWhite-Winged Dove

FinchHouse Finches

Heron 1Green Heron

Nighthawk_edited-1Lesser Nighthawk

HumAnna’s Hummingbird

SparrowHouse Sparrow, male

NestVerdin Nest


Sag Holes

One of the 2 remaining saguaros in the park after the last one collapsed.

DSC_3033Ash-Throated Flycatcher (LIFER)



This is Georgie, who I have gotten to know at the park, along with her mom. But they are moving out-of-state in a few days so I won’t see this pretty girl there anymore. The lake won’t be the same without Georgie fetching her ball over and over.

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Obsessive Birders

DSC_2752 aGila Woodpecker, male

As I’ve mentioned, it’s hot in Phoenix so I have not been birding as much as I would like. But, in June and July, I’ve been reading about birders and the ones who have books written about or by themselves seem to be a very obsessive bunch.

I’m on my third such book and I think that the books all could appeal to a more general audience because they’re not about the actual birds as much as about the choices these birders made in their lives. So here are a couple of mini-reviews:

Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile is about Phoebe Snetsinger, a birder famous for having seen over 8,398 species (there are about 10,000 identified species in the world now) by the time of her death in 1999 (while she was birding in Madagascar). She still remains as one of the top Big Listers. She estimated that she spent about $2 million dollars in her pursuit. This book is far more than a book about birding, however. It’s about a woman’s desire to have her own accomplishments and rewards, it’s about balancing family life and personal interests, it’s about what do you owe others when their needs and wants might overshadow your own? How do you choose? Phoebe’s life may cause you to question your own choices.

DSC_3063_edited-1Anna’s Hummingbird, male

I then read Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder by Kenn Kaufman. I thought Phoebe Snetsinger was obsessed but she was able to do her birding (albeit hers was throughout the world and Kenn’s was in North America) with plenty of money to back her travels. Kenn was only 16 when he hit the road to pursue his passion, with his parents’ blessings. At the age of 19, when he embarked on his winning Big Year, he was able to spend only $1,000 for the whole 12 months of crisscrossing the continent for 69,000 miles, much of it hitchhiking, and rolling out his sleeping bag any place he could find. Now one of the world’s top bird experts and bird artists, it paid off for him and he has given up listing for the joy of truly learning about birds.

As a birder myself on a far less grand scale, I loved hearing about the birds but I was mostly fascinated by how he lived during those early years. I’m about the same age as Kenn so I understand what the culture was like when he was following his dream and it was also a very exciting time for birding. Kenn (as did Phoebe) knew all the “famous” birders and ornithologists and many had a part in his successes.

Mock at CL'sNorthern Mockingbird

I’m now about 2/3 through To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, a Son, and a Lifelong Obsession by Dan Koeppel about his father. Dr. Richard Koeppel (who died in 2012) was also a Big Lister who saw over 7,000 species of birds, a number achieved by fewer than a dozen others at that time. It focuses on Dan Koeppel’s attempts to understand the obsession that ruled his father’s life, ruined his marriage, and strained his relationships with his sons. It also examines the culture of highly competitive birders who travel the world making lists of their sightings, and discusses the history and rules of listing. It also reveals the creative ways Dr. Koeppel made a living as a medical doctor to fund his extensive travels. All three books mention many other well-known birders, ornithologists, bird tour leaders, etc., and discuss their obsessions, too.

Mock 7.10.15

I won’t go into why I probably won’t be reading Harper Lee’s prequel/sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. It just seems to negate the original book too much and I’m not interested in the presumably racist content.

Mock Casa 7.2.15

Verdin 2.14.15_edited-1Verdin

Summer at Papago

Grebe Foot

Aren’t these the cutest things? They are Pied-billed Grebe babies. They look like something you’d see in the Galapagos instead of Papago Park Ponds, where they actually were. So here’s a few too many photos I took of them a couple days ago.

Grebe Adult

This is an adult, above. The males and females are indistinguishable.

2 Grebes



Grebe Babe Water

Grebe Eat

Catching lunch with parental supervision

Grebe Ma and Babe

Grebe Nest

There are actually 2 sets of babies. One has 3 babies and they are a little older than another group of 2 babies. Unfortunately, in that group, there were 4 babies until the other day…No one knows what happened.

Grebe Rock

Grebe Walking

“I can swim, I can walk, when can I fly?”

Grebe Water Foot

Ma and Baby

Entertaining as these guys were, and as many local bird photographers who have gathered there over the last couple weeks to see them, there were some other fun birds to see, too.

I never get tired of spotting Green Herons, much smaller birds than you would think.


Green Heron_edited-1

Greenie Juvy_edited-1

There were many punk juveniles there with their little spiked head feathers.

Gallinule 4

Common Gallinule

He/she felt like dancing. I also saw a chick with her but it scampered into the reeds before I could get a shot.




Flame Skimmer Dragonfly

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Hummer Action

Hum 6.20.15

There have been a lot of busy hummingbirds in our yard lately…



These 2, above, and the one, below, were all taken at the same time so I know they were 3 different hummingbirds.




“High Four!”





This is Rico Suave, above, with his bedroom eyes (click to see his long eyelashes).


Hum in Wind

You can’t tell by this photo, above, except for the blurry branches, but it was the midst of a dust storm and winds were gusting to about 50 mph. This guy was hanging on tight. Apparently their feet “lock” so they don’t have to worry about losing their grip.


Hummer Swing

I’ve seen a lot of photos in some birding groups I’m in where the hummers perch on little swings, thereby making for some lovely photo opps. It’s just a matter of placing it where they will like it. So I got this little copper one and hope it gets some use…