Melting/Molting

Curve-billed Thrashers

All the critters in our yard are either melting, molting or both right now. The thrashers dig holes and lay in them to keep cool. Notice the second one is drifting off to sleep, showing his nictitating membrane. We have a lot of shade and some water so they are able to keep relatively comfortable.

Abert’s Towhee, refreshing in bird bath

Anna’s Hummingbirds

House Finch, male youngster

Ash-throated Flycatcher (or Brown-crested Flycatcher)

I was surprised to see the above bird as I’ve never had one in the yard before. That is yard bird species #32. If it was a Brown-crested Flycatcher, it would be a lifer (bird never seen before) but when I asked the “experts, ” about half said it was Brown-crested and half said it was Ash-throated so I still don’t really know. It’s a juvenile, whichever it is.

Cicada Exoskeleton

Baby House Sparrows (possibly House Finches), I can’t really tell

The following 2 shots are in the “Things Only the Camera Sees” category. I didn’t notice until I looked at my photos that this Verdin was shedding a feather just as I was taking pics. It’s too bad it was behind branches and so dark.

Verdin

Stripey, preferring muddy rain water to fresh water.

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Hot Town

Hibiscus, its 7th year

Summer in this city means photographing my yard because it’s too hot to go anywhere else…

Anna’s Hummingbirds

Fiery Skipper

Verdins, adult and juvenile

Abert’s Towhees, adult and juvenile

Water is life, we have plenty out for the critters…

Ornate Tree Lizard

Northern Mockingbird, juvenile

Rough Stink Bug

Curve-billed Thrasher, juvenile

House Sparrow, fledgling

House Finch, juvenile

Brown-headed Cowbird, juvenile

Svengali

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head.

(Summer in the City, written by Steve Boone, Mark Sebastian, John Sebastian, 1966)

Late Afternoon Sunlight

Gila Woodpecker, female

A few days ago, when it was unseasonably cool, I wandered over to the Desert Botanical Garden around 5 pm. It was not crowded at all, the birds were happily chirping and eating, everything was blooming, and the sun made it all glow. The Garden is always beautiful but this evening it seemed that everything came together to make it extraordinary. These photos don’t begin to capture the way it looked.

Mexican Fencepost Cactus

Sunflower

Coneflower and bonus bug

Flame Skimmer Dragonfly

Gambel’s Quail nibbling in herb garden

Gaillardia

Lesser Goldfinch

Anna’s Hummingbird

Verdin dining

Queen Butterfly

It was really quite spectacular!

Madera Canyon

Mexican Jay (lifer)

Although I’ve lived in Arizona for over 40 years, I’ve never been to Madera Canyon before and only really became aware of it a couple of years ago from other birders. So, finally, I’ve experienced it and, like most of the other places in AZ that Tony and I have visited, it was beautiful!

Wikipedia says, “Madera Canyon is located in the Santa Rita Mountains, which is one of the largest of the Madrean Sky Islands. The canyon and its immediate surroundings are therefore home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, ranging from cactus covered desert in the lower reaches of the canyon to aspen and pine forest on Mount Wrightson.

With fifteen species of hummingbirds, elegant trogon, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, black-capped gnatcatcher, flame-colored tanager, thirty-six species of wood warblers, and over 256 species of birds documented in total, Madera Canyon is rated the third best birding destination in the United States. Other animals that can be found in Madera Canyon include black bear, mountain lion, bobcats, white-tailed and mule deer, foxes, coatis, ring-tailed cats, raccoons, wild turkeys, squirrels, and rabbits. Sixteen species of bats have also been recorded in the canyon.”

Unfortunately, we were only there for a few hours as we got a late start and, although it was several degrees cooler than Phoenix, we didn’t hike much because of the heat and time constraints. If you hike around, you can get some rare and unusual birds. We’ll go back in the fall and hike but, meanwhile, I did get 5 lifers and had a great time.

What we mostly did was hang out at the birdwatching area at Santa Rita Lodge. They are kind enough to let people who are not guests in their cabins also have access to this site for a donation to their bird food fund.

If you click on this photo (above), you can see the benches and chairs overlooking the feeding areas. We sat in the shade, a gentle breeze blowing, and watched the birds fly in to eat below…with cameras ready. It wasn’t even crowded since it was a weekday.

Broad-billed Hummingbirds, male and female (lifers)

Magnificent Hummingbird (lifer)

Magnificents are much larger than other hummingbirds but this guy stayed far away in a dark tree so I was lucky to get any photos at all of him. Someday I hope to get a good shot.

Hepatic Tanager (lifer)

Wild Turkey (lifer)

And I was able to get shots of some birds that were not lifers but ones I had never gotten decent shots of before.

Black-headed Grosbeaks, male and female

Bridled Titmouse

And a couple more:

Acorn Woodpecker

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Coues White-tailed Deer

As we were leaving in the late afternoon, we saw 3 deer together and another by itself. It had been many years since I came across a deer and was able to get a photo…the perfect end to a fun day.

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A May Day Bouquet

Black-chinned Hummingbird

A bouquet of birds, I mean. When I was little, living in Illinois, on May Day, we would make construction paper baskets, fill them with flowers (wildflowers, dandelions, flowers from our mothers’ gardens), leave them on a neighbor’s doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run and hide to watch them find their bouquets. Hardly anyone I mention this to knows what I’m talking about but we thought it was very exciting way back then and it really was a tradition (see NPR article). We would also have a May Pole at school. Now May Day is nothing special, I guess.

I just got this pretty copper hummingbird feeder, made by an Arizona artist. She has an Etsy shop where she sells a few different styles. The hummingbirds have been enjoying it even though I have several other feeders out, too, and it’s very easy to maintain. (Disclaimer: I don’t know her personally, I paid for mine, and am not getting a kickback.) 

We have Verdins building nests again in our pine tree. Their nests have the entrance on the bottom.

Curve-billed Thrashers, adult and fledglings

House Finch, male

Costa’s Hummingbird, immature male

House Finch, fledgling

Anna’s Hummingbird

Gambel’s Quail chick

Wilson’s Warbler, male

Lesser Goldfinch, female

These photos were taken in our yard and the last 6 at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Happy May Day!