Citizen Science…

Thrasher Wing Action_edited-1

I love observing and learning about the critters right in our own back yard. There is always something going on if you take the time to look…

The last few days, I moved my portable perch over to the only thing in our yard that has autumn colors…the pomegranate bush…which didn’t produce any pomegranates this year. That’s too bad because birds love pomegranates. Adding a few peanuts to the perch draws them in, though.

Perch in Autumn

Thrasher Autumn 2

Thrasher Golden Eyes 2Curve-billed Thrashers

Sparrow Perch 1

Sparrow Perch 2House Sparrows, female and male

This very strange looking little creature dropped by. Someone on Facebook was able to ID it for me. “Tylospilus acutissimus is a species of predatory stink bug in the family Pentatomidae. It is found in the Caribbean, Central America, North America, and South America.” (Wikipedia)

Mystery Bug

This moth was found floating in a tub of water in the backyard. I thought it was a goner but it flew away after a couple hours of rest…look at its cute face!

Butterfly SavedGeometer Moth

A Honeybee was upside down in a container of grape jelly filled with rain. I put her in a dry spot and gave her some jelly which you can see she is sucking up here and she flew away after awhile, too. Both took off to pollinate the world!

Save the Bees

My favorite winter visitor also loves grape jelly…

Tink Looking Up

OCWA Slant

OCWA Tree

Tink 11.25Orange-crowned Warbler

Goldfinch 12.2

Lesser Goldfinch 11.25Lesser Goldfinches, male and female (they love baths and thistle)

Autumn MockNorthern Mockingbird

Verdin PumpkinVerdin

Anna's 11.25Anna’s Hummingbird

Here’s a few citizen scientist things you can do in your yard (click to go to articles):

  1. Don’t rake your leaves as much.
  2. Join eBird and record your sightings.
  3. Feed the birds, especially in the winter.

 

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November in Phoenix

Western Pygmy BlueWestern Pygmy-Blue, smallest butterfly in North America

It’s been a glorious November, weather-wise, in Phoenix, following an equally glorious October.

Cone Flower

Anna's 11.2

Hummer Flight 10_edited-1Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

Verdin DD

Verdin on Dead BranchVerdins

Svengi on Mat_edited-1Svengali in the sunny catport (formerly the carport)

Google SunlightGoogle in the sun

Goldfinch 11.4Lesser Goldfinch, male

OCWA Round_Leaves

OCWA 2 11.3Orange-crowned Warbler (“Tink”)

Muhly Grass

This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever bought and I think it cost about $3.99. This is Pink Muhly Grass (Regal Mist), a non-invasive grass. It was tiny when I bought it, looked like a little tuft of grass and I had to ask our yard guy to not mow it or pull it out. I planted it in the remainder of a stump of a tree we had removed. First photo shows it now in all its pink glory, 2nd photo is of the stump, 3rd photo shows it when first planted in March 2017, 4th photo shows it in November 2017. It has grown a ton since then.

Pygmy in Muhly GrassWestern Pygmy-Blue in Muhly Grass

Mock on Roof

Mock in LantanaNorthern Mockingbirds

Lantana BerriesLantana Berries, delicious to all

Starling 11.2European Starling

Skipper from AboveFiery Skipper

Autumn Finch_edited-1House Finch

And…my 44th yard bird species…who seems to have only hung around for a couple days:

House Wren_edited-1House Wren

It was a very cute, tiny, curious, loud visitor. I wish I could have gotten a better photo before it took off…

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October Yard Action

Powdered DancerPowdered Dancer Damselfly

Bee FrontalHoneybee

Fiery Skippers (click to see larger)

We’ve had the best October ever, weather-wise. Due to some Pacific tropical storms, we had over 3 inches of rain in early October and it’s been far cooler than normal. Usually it’s still unbearably hot in October…not this year!!!! It’s been awesome.

Although I didn’t see any migrating birds in our yard and no new yard birds lately, we have had some colorful and more occasional visitors this month.

Lizard 10.15Ornate Tree Lizard

Mushrooms

The rain brought fungi, gnats, and mosquitos. No fairies under those ‘shrooms.

Towhee 10.1

Towhee 10.15

Towhee Peanut ButterAbert’s Towhees

Thrasher 10.15Curve-billed Thrasher

Inca 10.20Inca Dove

Rosy-faced Lovebird and Lesser Goldfinch (click to see larger)

Hummer 10

Hummer 10 b edited-1Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

Stripey Birdbath 10Stripey

Gila WP Girl 10.15

Gila WP SidewaysGila Woodpecker, female

Look who’s getting excited about Halloween Trick or Treats!!!

Curve-billed Thrasher, House Finch, Northern Mockingbird (click to see larger)

And the most exciting visitor is this little bird (“Tink”). This is his/her 4th winter to come to our yard and this year she showed up a couple weeks earlier than last year. She loves grape jelly and usually stays until about April. I’m so glad to see her back. I know she will pose nicely for me several times this winter. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The oldest known Orange-crowned Warbler was a male, and at least 8 years, 7 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.” I just find it amazing that a bird can find its way back to a specific place year after year but it does happen. I feel flattered that she likes the accommodations.

OCWA 10.19Orange-crowned Warbler

Hope your October is as awesome as ours is!

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Hello, October!

Desert CottontailDesert Cottontail

Dragonfly SXGMexican Amberwing, female

Vermiflion FC 3 SXG_edited-1

Vermilion FC 2 SXGVermilion Flycatcher, female

October is a good month for Phoenix since the mornings and nights get cooler, although the days can still get hot. Right now, we have the remnants of Hurricane Rosa bringing us rain and clouds so it’s cooler than normal, high 70s-80s. Feels great after a long, hot summer.

The above photos were taken at Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden one day last week. I love the light there. I often see warblers there during migration but not this time.

The next few photos were taken yesterday at Desert Botanical Garden on a gloomy day. I mistakenly thought the birds would be out in full force but I was wrong again. There were a ton of Queens, though.

Queen 1

Queen 3Queen Butterfly

Cactus Wren Lomo

Cactus Wren 2Cactus Wrens

QuailGambel’s Quail, male

Bee and Sunflower

SulphurSulphur with tattered wings

Verdin 2Verdin, mid-snack

I just don’t know where all the migrating birds are!!! I keep looking. The following photos were taken in our yard last week. The skippers are out in full force.

Skipper 9.23Fiery Skipper in Lantana

Svengi as ElvisSvengali does Elvis

It’s definitely beginning to look and feel like Fall here. Happy October!

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The Promise of Fall

Lesser Goldfinch, male

Some days it’s only around 100° here now! The difference between 100 and 110+ is pretty significant. It’s almost bearable to sit out in the shade for an hour or so. We’re still in our monsoon season, though, so it’s humid (for AZ). But there are signs that the season will change…maybe not totally for a couple months but, in just one month, our nights will become pleasant again and that will be a relief. Meanwhile there are a few other signs of better times coming…

The lantana is blooming and there are more butterflies…

Orange Sulphur (I think)

Fiery Skippers

Mournful Duskywing

No migrating birds spotted in our yard yet and those that are here are still molting and rough-looking but the Lesser Goldfinches are more plentiful and everyone is more active.

Verdins, adult and immature
Curve-billed ThrasherInca Doves
Gila Woodpecker, male

Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

Black-chinned Hummingbirds, male and female

And he flew off into the light…

After McCain’s death, he wrote in his 2018 memoir, The Restless Wave, the Audubon Society will make [part of the land on his Cornville, AZ ranch] a special birding area.

“The thought of that pleases me very much,” he wrote. (azcentral)