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

The Lull

Skipper Head-on

Skipper with Bokeh 8.17.19_edited-1Fiery Skippers

The lull is before the next road trip or before it finally cools off here after what seemed to me to be an extra hot summer. We had a record number of 110° plus days. It’s still over 100 most days but, hopefully, it will stay below 110 now. So our yard, once again, is the only place I’ve taken photos.

Anna's Pine

Anna's 9.1.19Anna’s Hummingbirds

Grasshopper 1

Kestrel 8.25American Kestrel

Gila WP 8.15.19Gila Woodpecker

Thrasher Peanut 8.19.19Curve-billed Thrasher, with peanut

Towhee HotAbert’s Towhee

Verdin BokehVerdin

Anna's Up 9.14.19_edited-1

Looking forward to cooler weather and more destinations.

800!

Robin 4

I knew my next post–this one–was going to be my 800th so I thought it should be something special. However, I haven’t had anything particularly special to show so I figured I’d better do it now or I’ll totally get out of the blogging habit like so many of my original blogging friends seem to have done.

This bird probably doesn’t look very exciting to a lot of you and American Robins are pretty common in much of the U.S. However, they are not very common at all in the Phoenix area so I was totally shocked one day to see this guy in our yard. He’s an immature robin. He hung around all day, dipping in the bird bath, flying here and there. I thought he might stick around awhile but he was gone the next morning. I guess he was just passing through. This was yard bird species #48!

Robin 5

Robin 6

Robin 2

On another extremely hot day, there wasn’t much activity in the yard so I made an effort to find a few things…

Pine Cone Pot_edited-1

Gila FeatherGila Woodpecker Feather

Egg Feather

Skipper Fly Blur

Lantana Fluff

Sitting out in the yard for very long is not appealing when it hits 115° some days and 105° on a “nice” day so checking up on my little yard friends is sporadic and brief.

Thrasher 8.3.19Curve-billed Thrasher

Anna's 6.23.19Anna’s Hummingbird, male

BCHU F 8.3.19Black-chinned Hummingbird, female

Verdin Open Mouth

Verdin Feet In OrangeVerdins, adult and juvenile

This cute little cat drops by every few weeks and meows very pitifully. I thought she was homeless and would probably wind up joining our group at some point but she disappears for long periods of time and looks healthy so I’m hoping she has a home closeby.

Mystery Cat

So on to 900 now but that won’t be for a couple years…

 

Yard Overview

Drama Bee

Bee. 6.1Leafcutter Bee

Skipper HeadonFiery Skipper

Mud DauberWasp

Twinsie BeesHoney Bee Twins

The bees like the birdbath, everyone likes the lantana. Just wish there were more butterflies around this year.

ROFL 5 5.9

ROFL 5.9_edited-1Rosy-faced Lovebirds, occasional visitors

GIWO 6.1Gila Woodpecker

Thrasher ScratcherCurve-billed Thrasher Scratcher

Baby Verdin in Orange 2

Verdin in TreeJuvenile Verdin

There are a couple of juvenile Verdins who are happily feeding themselves but now there appears to be an even younger fledgling Verdin who still needs to be fed by a parent. This is it flapping its wings and begging for food:

Verdin Baby

And it got fed, again and again…

Verdins A and J Orange 1

And here’s an interesting little family of Abert’s Towhees:

Towhee with Nut 5.27.19

Towhee Parent

Here is one of the adults feeding a juvenile Towhee:

Towhee Bio Baby

And here is the same adult feeding its foster baby, a Brown-headed Cowbird!

Towhee Foster Baby

The Brown-headed Cowbird is North America’s most common “brood parasite.” A female cowbird makes no nest of her own, but instead lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species, who then raise the young cowbirds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). They evolved this way because centuries ago this bird followed bison herds on the Great Plains, feeding on insects flushed from the grass by the grazers, and so did not have time to nest the normal way. Some people hate them and think they are “evil,” because heavy parasitism by cowbirds has pushed some species to the status of “endangered” and has probably hurt populations of some others (Audubon). I think it’s pretty interesting behavior.

BRHC JuvyBrown-headed Cowbird, juvenile

Anna's Closeup

Anna's 5.27.19Anna’s Hummingbird, male

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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