Winter in the Desert

We went to the Desert Botanical Garden again a few days ago. It’s not quite time for the wildflowers to begin blooming but it’s always a pretty place to walk. No new birds either but I’ll keep trying…

Cactus Wrens, Arizona State Bird

Gilded Flickers

Curve-billed Thrashers

Gila Woodpecker

A Visit to DBG

Baby Verdin

Verdin Juvy and Adult

Baby Verdin 2Verdins (yellow-headed one is an adult)

On another unseasonably cool day in Phoenix, we went back to the Desert Botanical Garden. Here are some of the sights.

Cholla BerriesCholla with Fruit

Cardon 2

Cardon 1Cardons (native to northwestern Mexico)

GIWOGila Woodpecker, male

Artichoke BloomArtichokes

Gaillardia 2

See the bee, above?

Red Flower

GallardiasGaillardias

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren BackCactus Wren (Arizona State Bird)

Crested Saguaro

Crested Sag CloseupCrested Saguaro

Stages of a BloomPrickly Pear blooms

Sag BlossomsSaguaro blooms (Arizona State Flower)

Thing

DovesMourning Dove juveniles

Look what we saw! If it hadn’t been cloudy, the photos would have been much better but it’s the first time I ever got one without branches in front of it. It was also very windy that day!

GHO 1

GHOW 2Great Horned Owl

Camera Scene

Dove in Nest

Yellow Flower

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Spring Heads Into Summer

Painted Lady 4.13Painted Lady

Bee Green EyesLeafcutter Bee

Fiery Skipper 4.12Fiery Skipper (with Green Bottle Fly)

Checkered SkipperCheckered-Skipper

Once again, the lantana is pulling the butterflies, bees, and flies into its sweet nectar. It totally froze this winter, turned black, and then came back to life again! Lantana is hearty.

So, sadly, my winter visitor birds have now moved on to their summer homes. Hope they come back next year! Especially my favorite, “Tink,” below:

OCWA New Branch 4.6Orange-crowned Warbler

YRWA 3.25Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male (“Chatty”)

YRWA F 3.15Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, female (“Shy Girl”)

But, in return, the only migrator I saw~so far~in my yard was a Plumbeous Vireo and I didn’t get a photo because it left right away. But it as well as the following bird made my Yard Bird species count jump to 47:

Gambel's Quail YardGambel’s Quail

These quail are normally in desert areas, not crowded urban areas like where we live. I strongly discouraged this guy from settling in as quail spend so much time on the ground and lay their eggs on the ground. There are way too many cats for that to have a good outcome. So after 2 days of me shooing him off, he disappeared. I hope he got out of our cat-friendly neighborhood fast.

So we are now back to the year-round regulars:

Thrasher 3.5

Thrasher Discussion

Thrasher BabyCurve-billed Thrashers (above photo is a juvenile)

Towhee Nuts 4.6Abert’s Towhee (gathering nuts to take back to the nest)

Mock Mulberry_edited-1

Mock with BflyNorthern Mockingbirds (gathering food for nestlings)

House Finch, male and Lesser Goldfinch, female

Mourning Doves

Eurasian Collared-Dove and White-winged Dove

Gila 2.6Gila Woodpecker, male

Verdin 4.7Verdin

Starling OrangeEuropean Starling (bashing an orange)

And, of course, we have House Sparrows, too. Who doesn’t? Now we are settling in for another long, hot summer here in Phoenix.

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Reach 11 Nature Trail

Roadrunner_edited-1Greater Roadrunner with lunch

Reach 11, in north Phoenix, is part of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department but it exists for flood control. A 7-mile long earthen dam keeps flood waters out of the nearby canal and out of housing developments to the south. The area where the nature trails are is only about 1 mile wide. Amazingly, this place is not well-known at all. I only heard about it from some birders recently. Driving down the busy street where the entrance is, one would never know what a beautiful place it is. Someone described it as a “hidden gem,” and it really is. From the street it just looks like desert scrub.

This poor, old, decrepit saguaro is at the beginning of the trail. We saw a bird fly into it so stopped to watch.

Saguaro R11

Who’s that?

Gila in Cactus 1

Gila in Hole_edited-1

It’s a male Gila Woodpecker. There must be a nest in there.

Gila Bill in Hole_edited-1

He was kind of shy. But then we saw more action…

Starling in Hole_edited-1

A European Starling. It had a nest in one of the center holes and kept flying in and out with food. We could hear babies chirping every time a delivery was made.

Then we saw someone else fly in the other side…

Flicker on Cactus_edited-1

A Gilded Flicker (male) seems to have a nest, too…

Flicker Butt in Hole_edited-1

Flicker in Hole_edited-1

We stayed on the trail and didn’t disrupt the nesters but I’m sure they were pleased we left. We also saw another Starling head into a hole in the back so this saguaro is home to at least 4 different nests now. Who knows what else might be living in there? The wind was really blowing hard and gusting while we were there so I hope when that poor saguaro falls that there are no nests left.

After we walked a little more, we started to see the “hidden gem” part of this area. It was very lush back in there, all sorts of grasses, wildflowers, etc.

Wild Plants

Thru the Trees

There was a mesquite bosque and a little hidden pond in there, full of tadpoles, called Bullfrog Pond. It was really peaceful and pretty. No one was around but one biker.

Pond 1

Tree Tunnel

Globe MallowGlobe Mallow

LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard

BTGCBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher

Hummer R11Anna’s Hummingbird

I know this place is teeming with birds and other wildlife but it was so windy that day that the birds were having a hard time staying airborne. It’s definitely a place we will return to as it’s only about 20 minutes from our house and very unique.

*The reason this recreation area is called “Reach 11” is because it’s on the 11th reach of the Central Arizona Project canal. Across the street from the nature trail is a huge sports complex with 20 soccer fields, an equestrian area, and more.

 

Humming, Buzzing, Chirping

Hummer Diag 3.24

Anna's Feeder 3.24

Anna's F 3.23

Anna's Boy 3.24

Anna's 3.24

Anna's 3.17

Anna's 3.13Anna’s Hummingbirds, female and male

It’s migration season and breeding season so birds are very active right now. Our yard is full of sights and sounds of spring. There is lots of territorial aggression going on at the hummingbird feeders. The rare Broad-billed Hummingbird stayed for 3-4 weeks but she has now moved on.

We now have at least 3 Black-chinned Hummingbirds (2 males). I assume some may be the same ones who have come for the last few years because they always come from about March-May. The males are very aggressive around the feeders and chase each other and the several Anna’s hummers all over. Fortunately, there are 4 feeders so everyone is able to get a turn eventually. The Black-chinneds make a funny, buzzing sound, totally different from the sound of an Anna’s. The sun has to hit them just right to make the males’ purple collars visible so it’s a fun challenge to try.

BCHU 2 3.22

BCHU 2 3.15

BCHU 1 3.25

(These smaller photos can be clicked on to make larger; I just don’t like feeder shots that much.)

BCHU Branch 3.17

This is the female, below. She is lankier with a whiter underside than the Anna’s Hummingbirds. They also have longer, slightly down-curved bills.

BCHU Female 3.24_edited-1

Here’s a few more of the tiny birds currently in our yard:

Verdin 3.23_edited-1Verdin

We have at least 3 in our yard. They are here year-round, desert birds.

OCWA 3.17

Tink Mesquite 3.23

OCWA Crown 3Orange-crowned Warbler

My favorite bird in the world, “Tink,” is still here. She usually leaves by the second week of March but I’m afraid she’s hooked on grape jelly and doesn’t want to leave. Everything I’ve read said that having food out doesn’t affect migration so she will probably leave soon. I finally caught a glimpse of her orange crown a few days ago (you can see it in the last photo, above). It isn’t normally visible. This is her 4th winter in our yard so I hope she’ll have a safe summer and come back next year.

YRWA 3.23

YRWA Shy Girl 3.23Yellow-rumped Warblers, Audubon’s, male and female

These guys will probably be migrating soon, too, although some do stay year-round, apparently. We’ll see. They don’t really seem to be a couple. I see the male (“Chatty”) all the time and he likes to follow Tink around rather than the female of his own species (“Shy Girl”).

I’m hoping we’ll get a few more migrants coming through, someone new and exciting, maybe. I haven’t had much luck lately getting new birds.