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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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)

On the Road Again

We finally got started on our AZ day trips again. I’ve been back from IN for about 6 weeks and, with a sick kitty (who now feels better), monsoons, and other assorted issues, it seemed hard to get going. But we went back to Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim (one of our many favorite places) yesterday. The temperature was 68 degrees, quite a nice relief from the constant Phoenix heat. Cool, refreshing, beautiful, peaceful. Here are some of our sights in semi-chronological order.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

We were feeding these guys peanuts, which you can see are stuffed in this one’s cheeks, but we also dropped the occasional piece of popcorn. This one was particularly greedy and unafraid of us so kept begging for more.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and Grey-collared Chipmunk (in foreground)

Most Jays are very loud, very pretty, and fun to watch and these are no exception.

Steller’s Jay

I was very surprised to see this guy land quite close to me before he took off in a hurry. We also saw several members of its family flying over the lake.

Bald Eagle, immature

It was so lush in the forest after all the monsoon rains. No mosquitoes, though!

Speaking of loud and boisterous:

Common Raven

It was not real birdy, though, oddly. Other than hearing the Jays and Ravens, it was pretty quiet. We did also see, briefly, some sort of wren, warbler, and woodpecker but not long enough for photos.

Then we stopped on the Rim for the views before we left and there we saw more birds. There were many Turkey Vultures riding the currents.

This is the very edge of the Rim, looking down, glad I didn’t trip:

Lesser Goldfinch

There were several varieties of pine (or fir?) trees here.

Dark-eyed Junco, Red-backed subspecies, juvenile

Plateau Fence Lizard

Mountains as far as you can see. It was great to be out again and to have something different to blog about again! Hopefully, we are back in our routine of regular adventures.

Back to Madera Canyon

It’s a penguin!

Not really.

Acorn Woodpecker

Last week we were back at one of our favorite places, for the second time ever. We had been there almost exactly one year prior (last year’s post). Last year I got 5 lifers; this year I got 5 more. Many consider Madera Canyon the third hottest birding spot in the U.S. as it is a very diverse environment (part of the Madrean Sky Islands). This was my favorite and the target bird for the day:

Arizona Woodpecker, male (lifer)

He was accommodating and came right to the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge a couple of times while we sat there in their bird viewing area. This is the only brown woodpecker in the world and is only found in southeastern Arizona and part of Mexico.

Pine Siskins, Lesser Goldfinches, House Finches

The Pine Siskins were also lifers but I have a feeling they were there last year, too, and that I thought they were finches.

Rufous-crowned Sparrow (lifer)

We also saw a Red-faced Warbler (lifer) but my photo does not do it justice. They’re a fairly uncommon bird.

Then we also heard the bird that is almost everyone’s target when going to Madera Canyon, the Elegant Trogon. We hiked a little with another couple looking for him and, after not locating it where we heard it might be, we split up. We kept hearing it calling as it has a very loud and distinctive call. We found the other couple again and, of course, they had gotten views of it! The American Birding Association considers heard-only birds to be as countable as seen birds. I don’t really agree as I would have loved to have seen it but I’m still counting it as my fifth lifer. This is what they look like and, in the U.S., are only found in Arizona and occasionally southern Texas. They’re really a Mexican bird and look very exotic and tropical. Someday we’ll see one!!!!

I love these birds and they are plentiful there. They are also a Mexican bird found only in southern AZ and southern TX:

Mexican Jay

They’re loud and boisterous like other Jays.

View from Old Baldy Trail

Santa Rita Lodge also has hummingbird feeders. I think these are the most beautiful of the hummers I’ve seen:

Broad-billed Hummingbirds (last one is a female)

Cordilleran Flycatcher

Chipping Sparrow

Black-headed Grosbeak

Just like last year, as we were getting ready to leave, we saw a couple of these guys:

Coues White-tailed Deer

The weather was perfect and it was another great day in Madera Canyon!

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