I Got Lucky!

This is a male Pyrrhuloxia, sometimes called the “Desert Cardinal.” It is a cousin to the Northern Cardinal. He has been a nemesis bird for me. Their range is more in southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southern Texas, and Mexico so they are not very common in the Phoenix area. However, this particular bird is now spending his 3rd (at least) winter at the Desert Botanical Garden and I’ve been chasing him that whole time but he was very elusive. I kept seeing photos of him in my Facebook birding group from many other people. He hangs out in a specific area quite a bit and, a few days ago, I sat there for 2 hours waiting for a glimpse. No show. I was getting discouraged but decided to go over one afternoon this past week and get disappointed again. I sat down and, within about a minute, he appeared! And he seemed to do a lot of posing just for me, probably recognizing me from all the times I’ve been looking for him:

Isn’t he beautiful/adorable/unusual? During breeding season, his bill is also bright yellow so he’s even more colorful then but he doesn’t breed up here so I’ll have to try to catch one in southern Arizona sometime.

Gilded Flicker, male

Northern Mockingbird


A couple days before finally seeing the Pyrrhuloxia, I went to Gilbert Riparian Preserve (Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch) in search of some rarities being seen there. I never have good luck there unless I’m with an experienced birder. Fortunately, one showed up and, when the bird finally appeared, helped me find it. It was a Prairie Warbler, very unusual for this part of the country, but my picture is not good at all. There are now several more rare (for Arizona) birds there so I should try to make it out there one day this coming week and hope someone can help me find them, too.

Desert Cottontail

And I saw a ton of these fast, little guys:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Say’s Phoebe

Western Meadowlark

And these little warblers were energetically flitting about right in the same area as the Prairie Warbler giving me false hope several times as they have the same coloring.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Cave Creek


Now that Tony and I are both retired, we’re trying to get out and go to places in our area and state that we’ve never seen before (and I’m always trying to find new birds). Maybe every state is this way, but Arizona has a ton of city, county, state, and national parks.

Last week we went to Cave Creek Regional Park. We stopped at the Nature Center and the staff suggested we check out the “Michelin Man” saguaro so we hiked an easy trail and found it.


Pretty amazing compared to the other saguaros. I’d like to see this in a couple months when the saguaros are blooming.



It’s a very nice park with hikers, bikers, and horseback riders but not very birdy so we went to a nearby riparian area known as Jewel of the Creek Preserve. “The Jewel of the Creek is a desert oasis filled with towering cottonwood and willow trees along Cave Creek, at the northern edge of the Town of Cave Creek and bordering the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. This property holds one of the last remaining perennial streams in Maricopa County. The unusual year-round presence of water supports a myriad of plant and animal species.


Every time I see one of these signs, it never bodes well for birding and it didn’t. This is a beautiful, lush place, though, along the banks of Cave Creek. The hike, which was listed as “moderate” was awful. I just don’t enjoy clambering over giant rocks and logs for almost 3 miles and I was pretty sure my camera was going to be smashed before the end. It wasn’t. 🙂

But everything was glowing in the late afternoon light…

cactus-wren-glowingCactus Wren


rckiRuby-crowned Kinglet


I didn’t take many photos when we were down along the banks, fighting to survive. These were all taken when we were safely up and almost done with the hike.




A lovely place that I probably won’t be going to again…


Thrasher 3.8.16_edited-1Curve-billed Thrasher

In my yard lately…

Verdin 3.12.16

Verdin Orange 3.8.16Verdin

Swallowtail 3.6.16_edited-1

Swallowtail 2

Swallowtail 3Giant Swallowtail

Gila WPGila Woodpecker, male

This guy, above, is the 9th species I’ve seen partaking of the orange halves in our yard. If you want to feed some birds easily, try this.

Mock 3.8.16Northern Mockingbird

RCKI 2.9.15Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Towhee 3.12.16Abert’s Towhee

SkipperFiery Skipper

I’ve now added suet to my backyard bird enticements since it doesn’t seem to fall to the ground as they eat it (and encourage cats). Of course, the sparrows hog it.

SuetHouse Sparrows

Stripey UpStripey


Snoopy BlimpSnoopy

Early Spring at the DBG

Finch Cactus

Finch Minimalist

Finch Nest BuildHouse Finches

The cacti are not yet blooming but the birds and other critters are busy~singing, nest-building, flying, and running around at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Harris's antelope SquirrelHarris’s Antelope Squirrel

Ground Squirrel

SquirrelRound-tailed Ground Squirrels

Cactus WrenCactus Wren


Anyone nesting in there? Guess not.

Gila WPGila Woodpecker

Starling SneezingEuropean Starling

This poor Starling kept sneezing, he must have spring allergies.

YRWA DBGYellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

3 Hawks

Red-tailed HawkRed-tailed Hawks

There were 5 of these hawks circling together.

Mourning DoveMourning Dove

ThrasherCurve-billed Thrasher



RCKI DBG CrownRuby-crowned Kinglet

I know that’s a bad photo but it’s the first time I’ve actually seen the red crown on one of these very fast-moving birds.


BTGCBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher

Sign 1

Sign 2

Sign 3

I’ll be spending more time at the DBG because I start my volunteer orientation there this weekend!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Beneath the Canopy

RC KingletRuby-crowned Kinglet (lifer in my yard!)

RC Kinglet 3

Even though we live in a very urban area in central Phoenix, our backyard is almost entirely covered with trees. On Google maps, you can’t see anything but treetops. It means there’s a whole other world under there and it also means most of my photos are high ISO because it’s dark, even on a sunny day (which is rare lately).

I’ve seen 24 species in our yard which isn’t bad for an urban setting. Here are a few of the birds that flit from branch to branch daily.

Thrasher 3 1.2.16Curve-billed Thrasher

Thrasher 4 1.2.16

Thrasher 1.2.16_edited-1

I love their Angry Bird look.

Mock 2 11.18.15Northern Mockingbird

Sparrow 1.2.16House Sparrow, female

DSC_1468Abert’s Towhee

Hum 12.5.15

Hum Fly 12.28.15_edited-1

Hum 12.8.15

Hum 1.2.16

Hum 2 12.5.15Anna’s Hummingbird

We have a huge Goldwater pine, a large mesquite, African sumac, mulberry, pomegranate, oleanders, queen palm, and California pepper. In the front, we have lantana, ficus, silk oak, and more African sumac. Most of these trees/bushes seem to provide some sort of seeds or other sustenance for the birds so I don’t have any feeders out other than for the hummers because I don’t want seed falling to the ground for birds to forage any more than happens naturally. We do have outdoor cats…

Pine in Yard


But…since the holidays, I have been putting out an orange a day and a few nuts high in the trees much to the excitement of several birds.

“OMG, is this for me?”

OCWA Orange cropOrange-crowned Warbler

Verdin Orange cropVerdin

Wood Thang

Tree Thang

Above our cozy, happy little canopy danger always lurks, however.

Kestrel 1.2.15American Kestrel

dsc_0508 aHarris’s Hawk

I know these guys have to eat, too, but I don’t want them eating my cute little birds.

dark, brimming with life
beneath the lush canopy
birds sing, eat, drink, fly

This slideshow requires JavaScript.