Category Archives: Phoenix

Phoenix Wildlife, A Guest Post

AZ Necklace

Zillow recently approached me and asked to do a guest post about Phoenix since Glenrosa Journeys is primarily Phoenix-based. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s really hot here and I haven’t gone out photographing as much as I normally do, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to buy myself a little time. And since I ♥ Phoenix, I was also curious about what the author would say about my town. I am receiving no sort of compensation for this; I just thought it would be fun to take them up on it and I, personally, always enjoy looking around on Zillow…at houses I’ve lived in before, areas I’m interested in, houses I know are for sale, etc. I’ve added a few of my photos of places or wildlife that Satinder mentioned to personalize this post. Thanks to her, I have a couple new ideas of where to go…when it’s cooler.

PHX pendant

3 Areas in Phoenix with the Best Access to Wildlife


By Satinder Haer of Zillow

Arizona is known for its amazing wildlife and Phoenix specifically is packed with outdoor locations to soak up the sights. The state is home to six national forests, 22 national parks and dozens of wildlife refuges. Unlike other cities, you don’t have to live hours outside of Phoenix to have access to the city and the outdoors.
If you’re relocating to a new home in Phoenix, consider one of these three locations for close proximity to wildlife areas.

Deer Valley
Located only 18 miles north of downtown Phoenix, Deer Valley offers reasonably priced real estate and close proximity to the outdoors. The median home value in Deer Valley is $191,000, about one-third lower than home values in neighboring areas. Less than 10 minutes west of Deer Valley is the Thunderbird Conservation Park with inhabitants such as coyotes, gray and kit foxes as well as dozens of bird species. Some of the trail options are short enough to complete as a quick, evening workout while others require a full day.

Hassayampa River Preserve, early spring

Hassayampa River Preserve, early spring

On the weekend, you can venture an hour west to the Hassayampa River Preserve or an hour east to the Tonto National Forest. Spot over 280 bird species at Hassayampa, including yellow-rumped warblers and cedar waxwings or arrive at sunrise to see ringtails and bobcats emerging. Alternatively, head to Tonto and view a rare Chiricahua leopard frog or a banded sand snake. Exercise caution and follow site regulations regardless of outing.

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Hassayampa River Preserve, early spring

Ahwatukee Foothills Village
The urban village of Ahwatukee is located on the brink of South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the country. You can even find a house nestled into the mountain preserve if you want to live in the epicenter of nature. Housing prices are on the rise in the Ahwatukee Foothills with a median home value of $284,800. The home values in this area are expected to rise another 1.5 percent by next June, even after experiencing a growth of 2.5 percent in the last year. This growth is not unprecedented, since the village is a 20-minute drive from downtown Phoenix.

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White-Belted Ringtail Dragonfly

On weekends, drive 1.5 hours south to Sonoran Desert National Monument for endless hiking options. The Brittlebush Trail is an easy 6-mile hike known for bighorn sheep, desert mule deer and desert tortoise spotting. For a change of scenery, swing west to Estrella Mountain Regional Park and explore the unique wildflower vegetation.

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Painted Lady Butterfly

Central City
You don’t even have to leave downtown Phoenix to see some of the best wildlife Arizona offers. Central City, which encompasses downtown, is actually the cheapest of these locations with a median home value of $100,800 and anticipated annual appreciation of 4.2 percent. Now is a great time to purchase a home in Central City if you want to live in the heart of the city and simultaneously experience Arizona’s outdoor adventures. During the summer, see hundreds of Mexican free-tail bats emerge in droves from a 7-mile underground tunnel (part of the Maricopa County Flood Control ditch) nicknamed the Phoenix Bat Cave. The southwest corner of 24th Street and Biltmore Circle is a great location for viewing the bats and spotting nighthawks.

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Lesser Nighthawk

Cactus Wren, AZ State Bird, Desert Botanical garden

Cactus Wren, AZ State Bird, Desert Botanical Garden

Later in the summer, enjoy butterfly season through guided walks at a number of locations within an hour drive of downtown: the Desert Botanical Garden, Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park and the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. Of course, if you’re willing to drive an hour in any direction, you can always find a national park or mountain trail to hike.

Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Wildlife seekers will not be disappointed by their decision to live in Phoenix—whether it’s in Central City, Ahwatukee Foothills Village or Deer Valley.

Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

[Note: Copper Necklace by Lisa Pauling of Be You Jewelry; Silver Necklace by Michelle Spanyard. They are both AZ artists.]

Park Pals

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Gilded Flicker, male

I go to several urban parks on a regular basis. Weekly I head over to Granada Park, the closest to my house, but I also visit several others. Here are a few friends I met over the last month, mostly at Granada but also 4 other parks.

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Gambel’s Quail, female

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Green Heron

Killdeer

Killdeer

Lovebird

Rosy-Faced Lovebird, juvenile

Thrasher

Curve-Billed Thrasher

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Verdin

Verdin

Verdins

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Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpipers

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Black Phoebe, chowing down

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Gila Woodpecker, female

Cowbird Girl

Brown-Headed Cowbird, female

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird

Finch Yellow

House  Finch, yellow variety

Cormy

Neotropic Cormorant

Matching Ducks

I guess these guys, above, must be Mallard hybrids (or domestic ducks), but they’re funny, always swimming together and looking similar but different. Must be related.

And another little buddy that I see at the park often, Georgie, a water dog:

Georgie

Georgie Wet

Georgie

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Who?

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Burrowing Owls, that’s who. Burrowing owls are small (9 inch tall), day-active birds that live in the abandoned burrows of ground squirrels and other mammals. They are highly social and eat primarily insects and mice. Once common in the Phoenix valley, these birds are disappearing rapidly due to development. Oftentimes, developers are not even aware that there are burrows and they excavate over them. Fortunately, the birds can be trapped and successfully relocated to safe sites; however, these sites are becoming increasingly rare (Downtown Owls).

The City of Phoenix, along with Wild at Heart and Audubon Arizona (funded by Toyota TogetherGreen) have been relocating these displaced owls for the last couple of years in the Rio Salado Restoration Habitat Area. Volunteers build burrows out of PVC pipes and 5 gallon buckets for them, and they are gradually re-introduced into their new burrows.

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We went to see the owls this weekend with our friend, Lawrence Polk, Parks Special Operations Supervisor, for the City of Phoenix, and we got a guided tour of the burrows, which are on a bluff overlooking the Salt River. Each burrow is covered over with rocks to protect it and has a perching post outside.

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The birds are not very shy but you are not supposed to get within 15 feet of them. The burrowing owl is federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Canada and Threatened in Mexico. In Arizona, they are considered a Species of Concern.

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Turkey Vulture

They are always on the lookout for any possible danger. I thought maybe the hawk, above, was scoping out the owls but, later, when I looked at my photos, I realized it was a Turkey Vulture, looking for carrion, so the owls weren’t in danger from him.

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We saw several of the owls and I took about 150 photos but they all kind of look about the same, I noticed, so I won’t show you all of them.

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There are a few other locations in the area where new habitats for the owls are being built, including Zanjero Park in Gilbert.

Abuzz and Abloom

Cactus Flower and Bees Everyone and everything was abuzz and abloom the other morning at the Desert Botanical Garden. It seemed to be The Happiest Place on  Earth. Click on photos for more detail.

Isn’t this guy the epitome of happiness?

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European Starling

Thrasher

Curve-Billed Thrasher

Finch Boy

It was a flying finch frenzy.

Finch Girl

House Finch, male and female

Desert Spiny Lizard

Desert Spiny Lizard

Sparrow Fly

House Sparrow, male

Dfly

Blue Dasher

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Cactus Wren, the Arizona State Bird

Quail

Gambel’s Quail, male

And I got 2 lifers!!!! This little posing bird:

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Gnatcatcher

Black-Tailed Gnatcatcher, male

And another lifer, that I’ve been searching for:

Phain Boy

Phainopepla, male

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Phainopepla, female

Gila on Saguaro

Gila Woodpecker

Squirrel Eating

Antelope Squirrel

Yellow Cactus Flower

Bullfrog

Bullfrog

Cactus Color

The desert is glorious in spring and the best is yet to come…

Spring at Papago

Green Heron 2

Green Heron

Cooper's 2

Cooper's 6

Cooper's

Sharp-Shinned or Cooper’s Hawk (hard to distinguish)

Gallinule

Common Gallinule

Pond Slider

Red-Eared Pond Slider

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Egret 2

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Great Egret

Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Ring-Necked Duck

Ring-Necked Duck

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Grebe

Pied-Billed Grebe

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Northern Flicker

Cactus Flower

Green Heron

I spent the first day of spring at Papago Park and made a brief visit to the Desert Botanical Garden, which is in the park. Not much luck there as it was later in the day and packed with people but the ponds at the park made for a decent day of birding. I have a 3-day weekend and I’m planning to go shooting somewhere everyday. More photos to come, I hope…

Happy Spring!