March Miscellany

Moon Over Desert Botanical Garden

This photo is from “Museum of the Moon,” an exhibit at Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix) in February. This is a 23 foot diameter inflatable moon of which there are several that have traveled all over the world to museums and other installations. It was pretty cool. It had many wires and scaffolds holding it down so it couldn’t blow away. For this photo, I erased the wires that were showing and added a different sky. The mountain is part of the Garden. It was an interesting exhibit that was only here for a week and it was pretty windy most of those days. In fact, its last day was to be February 14 and there were special events that were to occur for Valentine’s Day but it was so windy that day that all were canceled. I couldn’t help but wonder if it ruined anyone’s romantic plans, maybe to pop the question…

If you look closely, you can see the seams in the moon, above. Still a pretty remarkable object. Obviously I added this sky, too.

So, once again, I have a few photos I’m trying to get off my desktop and they don’t really “go with” much else so here they are:

Buttercup Oxalis/Bermuda Buttercup
Buttercup Oxalis, welcoming spring in my neighbor’s yard
First of Season Painted Lady
The first Painted Lady of the season
Misty on Fence
Misty, another neighbor’s cat

The little bird feeder, featured in my last post, given to me by a birding friend, has attracted Northern Mockingbirds and Curve-billed Thrashers to its peanut stash so far:

Birds Welcome Mockingbird
Birds Welcome Thrasher

And I played around with adding textures to a couple of photos that were either very grainy or had unattractive backgrounds:

Anna's Hummingbird on Hummer Feather Macro Texture
Anna’s Hummingbird superimposed on a macro photo of hummingbird feathers
House Finch, male
A male House Finch

If I was smart, I would be saving up all these “extra” photos for when the summer gets so hot in Phoenix that I don’t take many photos…but I’m not. I’ll just have to take extra in the next couple of months before it becomes unbearable.

Happy Spring Equinox, everyone!

Great Backyard Bird Count

Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker, male

That terrribly cute bird with the punk rock hair is a Ladder-backed Woodpecker who has been visiting my yard a few times lately. I sure wish he would become a regular but he is very skittish and flies away at the slightest disturbance from the other birds.

However, he never showed up during the Great Backyard Bird Count when I was out in the yard. Every February, for 4 days, the Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology have this citizen science project where you count species and numbers of each and report them to You can do it anywhere, not just your yard, and you can do it as many times as you want. I actually did it 4 times, all in my yard, twice alone, and twice with my birding friend, Karen. On the last day, Karen and I saw 20 different species in my yard in 2 hours. There were even 110 House Sparrows at one time!

Here are some of the birds that were seen during this event:

American Robin in Mesquite
American Robin

American Robin

Mockingbird Grooming
Northern Mockingbird with Nut

Northern Mockingbird

"I got counted in the Great Backyard Bird Count!"

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Justa Starling

European Starling

"I like peanut butter, too."

Curve-billed Thrasher

Rosy-faced Lovebird

Rosy-faced Lovebird

Diggin' Up Some Dirt

White-crowned Sparrow

Gila Woodpecker with Suet

Gila Woodpecker

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

The Dance

Anna’s Hummingbird

American Kestrel

Lesser Goldfinch, male

Lesser Goldfinch

We had a great time and I’ve added some different foods to lure more birds into the yard so I hope I get even more variety in the future. I keep a yard bird list and I’m up to 55 species that have visited my yard. Some of them were only one hit wonders but it’s always exciting to get some different ones.

Birding Friends

Yellow-rumped Warbler
White-crowned Sparrow
Winged Flight
Yellow-rumped Warbler
A Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Orange-crowned Warbler, and another Yellow-rumped Warbler were residing in a backyard in Chandler, AZ, to which I was invited. A woman in my Facebook birding group has a rare (for here) bird that has been in her yard for about 3 months now and she asked me if that would be a Lifer for me (a bird I had never seen before). I said yes and she invited me over to try to see it.

She has a gorgeous yard, complete with a 30 foot stream, a retention pond, tons of native trees and plants, various posing props, etc., so I was able to get some lovely shots. My husband came with me and this is who greeted us out front:

Greater Roadrunner

None other than a Greater Roadrunner! I figured that was a good sign that it was going to be a fun experience. So…I got my Lifer bird, a Gray Catbird! We don’t have those here normally. They are related to Mockingbirds and Thrashers and we definitely have those. Anyway, he was a little shy and gave me a few short looks but enough to get some photos:

Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird Headshot

Handsome little guy. I have some other shots but they all have feeders in them, not my favorite look but still glad to have them. I have some other photos from her yard that I haven’t even edited yet so they may pop up later. Everything looks great in her yard. She knows how to set up a bird paradise.

I have another birding friend who I have gone several places with in the past. Unfortunately, she is moving out of state in March. She and I did the Great Backyard Bird Count (February 17-20) in my backyard a couple times this past week and I will post those photos very soon but, meanwhile, she brought me this cute feeder that she doesn’t want to take with her. The first day I put it out, two Northern Mockingbirds and two Abert’s Towhees were very interested but cautious of something new. One of the Northern Mockingbirds got his nerve up and posed for me briefly before grabbing a peanut. I think the others will get braver and I’ll be able to get some cute shots of them by, in, or on it soon:

Birds Welcome

Photo Dump


It’s always a good thing to have a lot of bird photos. I’ve been especially lucky lately in my yard and elsewhere but I always leave the photos that I still need to post here (and other places, sometimes) sitting on my desktop and it’s getting cluttered so I need to make this emergency photo dump to clear it out a little.

Above is a very cute Yellow-rumped Warbler that I saw at a park in Tempe, AZ, where we went to see American Robins and Cedar Waxwings. Not common visitors to our area, this year there has been an irruption of them here and elsewhere, and they have been voraciously eating Fan Palm berries all over town. Unfortunately, I did not get any of the lovely closeups of them eating said berries like many of the local birding photographers did but here are a few, just to prove I was there.

American Robin at Sunset

American Robins and Cedar Waxwings, above. The only one I caught by the berries was this annoyed Northern Mockingbird. The mockingbirds seemed very agitated that their park was being overtaken by these outsiders.

Northern Mockingbird with Palm Fan Berries

We also spotted several Snowy Egrets. This one looked so pretty in the setting sun.

Snowy Egret

Some handsome Northern Shovelers were wintering there.

Northern Shoveler, male
And in a smalll office park close to my house, I saw these Domestic Ducks cuddling in the afternoon sun.
Two Tucked Ducks
And some American Wigeons. This is a male.
American Wigeon, male

And…last Sunday I went to 3 parks and found zippo. This is about the only photo I took but it was good to see literally hundreds of Honey Bees swarming on the sage.

Honeybee on Sage

A couple more from my yard in January before I go…a Curve-billed Thrasher and a Northern Mockingbird.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird

Thank you for looking. I’ll clean off my desktop now and see you soon!

A Cold January

Model in the Mesquite
Orange-crowned Warbler Framed
Orange-crowned Warbler
As the Sun Set...
Eating Cara Cara Oranges

It’s been a cold January in Phoenix…not as cold as the midwestern or eastern parts of the U.S. but consistently colder than usual, day after day. I was excited to see this Orange-crowned Warbler in our yard and thought maybe it was the one that wintered with me for several years, excluding last winter, but now I’m not so sure. She seems to have moved on after a couple weeks of eating jelly and oranges. I’m hoping she returns…such a cute little thing. Maybe she was too cold and headed south.

I make sure the food is out everyday so they can keep fueled. Here are a few more January visitors: a White-crowned Sparrow digging up some dirt, Verdin, Anna’s Hummingbirds, a Rosy-faced Lovebird, Northern Mockingbird looking for peanuts, and A Curve-billed Thrasher showing off. I also have 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers in the yard but they are very skittish and my photos are not good…hoping to get them soon.

Diggin' Up Some Dirt
Anna's Fly
Anna's Female Flying
High Key Hummer
Anna's Hummingbird
Rosy-faced Lovebird, immature
Goin' for the Nuts
Curve-billed Thrasher in the Pines

I actually went to a couple places looking for birds but I don’t want to bore you with too many shots so I may make a catch-up post in a few days and show you some of those.

For now, here is a shot of the moon last night, January 30. I’m hoping to see the green comet in the next few days but I don’t have the sort of equipment to get a good photo of it. Somewhere around the Little Dipper…

By the Light of the Silvery Moon