It’s Still Spring

“How many peanuts can I fit in my bill?”

Abert’s Towhees

It was an exciting day in the yard last week when yard bird #38 showed up, haven’t seen it since:

Cooper’s Hawk, immature

House Finches, male feeding female (or young one)

Gila Woodpecker, male

This was also exciting (to me). After 24 years of living in this house and having our aloe veras multiply exponentially so that there are now several beds of them, we had one that bloomed yellow. How that hasn’t happened until now and why it’s the only one that is a different species is a mystery. The hummingbirds love the orange ones but didn’t seem impressed by this yellow one so the bees took over.

Honey Bee on yellow Aloe blooms

Verdin

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

Anna’s Hummingbird, female

Prepare for cuteness. This little Anna’s fledgling wants her mom to keep feeding her but mom thinks she needs to be on her own, with a little supervision:

You can see she’s able to find food with all the pollen on her bill. She just wants her mom to do it.

Here is my NSFW (Not Safe for Work) image, pretend it’s Nat Geo:

Curve-billed Thrashers

A sure sign of spring in the desert is the return of these guys, who love to drink the nectar from saguaro blossoms. As far as I know, there are very few or no saguaros in our neighborhood but we always get a few of them who hang out here. The blue eye shadow is very noticeable.

White-winged Dove

My little Orange-crowned Warbler that stayed in our yard for the last 5 months has now migrated, too. Hope he or she returns in the fall.

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Granite Mountain Trailhead

These photos might look a lot like those I posted a couple weeks ago at Brown’s Ranch Trail. We went back to the beautiful McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale. We were a few miles northeast of Brown’s Ranch at Granite Mountain Trailhead. The difference was this day was cloudy, there were almost no birds, and there was a ton more granite. Oh, and the views of the surrounding mountains were pretty awesome.

Four Peaks

Granite Mountain

Cactus Wren

Curve-billed Thrasher

Verdin

We saw a few squirrels but we also think we saw a Bobcat…no photo, of course.

Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains

It was a great day for a hike, though, as the weather was very pleasant and the views were great.

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A Busy Yard

Anna’s Hummingbirds

There are a lot of hummers in our yard now, doing their courtship thing, and eating a lot.

Orange-crowned Warbler

My little warbler will be migrating soon. Last year she left about March 10. I hope she will have a safe summer and return in the fall again.

American Kestrel, male

Gila Woodpecker, female

Verdin

Curve-billed Thrasher

Abert’s Towhee

Svengali says, “Mom, that sun is bright!”

Svengali has lived here about 7 years and was an adult when he showed up. He was a little mean until he got neutered and now he’s mostly sweet although a few cats are scared of him at times. He just had 13 teeth extracted and now only has 4 left! It hasn’t affected his eating at all.

Ferguson

Ferguson joined our outdoor cats a few months ago. It turns out he has a microchip and we’ve found out that he moved to Phoenix from New Mexico for a few months and, while his owner was moving back to New Mexico, he ran off. She decided he must be dead, moved, got a new cat, and doesn’t want him anymore. We don’t know if he lived closeby, none of our neighbors had ever seen him before. He seems happy here and I’m in the (loooong) process of getting his chip transferred to us.

We have 6 outdoor cats. Svengali, Ferguson, and Stripey are tame.

https://maccandace.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/stripey-2.jpg?w=1122&h=776Stripey

Edie

Edie, Kit, and Tortie are in various stages of feralness. Edie is 10 years old and the sister of 2 of our indoor cats, Ebony and Ivory. They are now tame but a little “different,” shall we say. Edie will not let us touch her or get within about 10 feet of her after all these years. She is spayed as are all of them (or neutered).

Kit

Kit is skittish but I can touch him briefly now and then although Tony can’t. Tortie is even more skittish but I’ve touched her a couple times while she’s eating. They both are younger but we don’t know how old. They’ve been here a year or more.

Tortie

I’ll post our 4 indoor cats soon but they do want to be mentioned here: Google, Jessi, Ebony and Ivory. Four is pretty much our indoor limit. Our house is fairly small and we have cat fights break out daily. Google likes to intimidate Ebony who is at least twice his size. Chaos then ensues. It’s just a good thing we think they’re cute.

 

Brown’s Ranch Trail

Brown’s Ranch was founded in 1917 by E.O. Brown, a Scottsdale entrepreneur, and encompassed 44,000 acres at its peak, supporting 3,000 to 5,000 head of cattle. His descendants lived on the ranch until 1970. After changing hands several times, the remainder of the ranch was acquired by the City of Scottsdale in 1999 for inclusion in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve is a large, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that includes an interconnected network of non-motorized, multi-use trails (hike/bike/horse) accessed from multiple trailhead locations over 30,500 acres. It is the largest urban park in the U.S.

Brown’s Mountain

It was a sunny, windy day and the 3 mile Brown’s Ranch Trail just got prettier and birdier the farther we went. We’d never been to any part of the Preserve before and I had no idea it was so beautiful. The trails were great. We’ll be exploring more of it soon.

White-crowned Sparrow (on agave stalk)

Ocotillos

I imagine in the spring, when the desert is in bloom, that it is even more spectacular.

Cactus Wren (on agave stalk)

Cholla, glowing

Cone Mountain

Phainopepla, male (on agave stalk)

Saguaro skeleton

Harris’s Hawk

Gilded Flicker couple

Curve-billed Thrasher

Red-tailed Hawk

Yes, those are bullet holes even though shooting is not allowed in the Preserve. But this is Arizona, the Wild West.

Mount Humboldt with FAA Radar Facility

Northern Mockingbird (on agave stalk)

There were no lifers but it is definitely on the “return to” list, at some point. And I learned that birds love dried agave stalks so I am in search of one for my backyard photo props.

A Sampler

Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

I’ve gone birding a few times lately with a new birder friend, Karen. We went to several places that Tony and I have actually been to so I didn’t take the lens I use for landscapes, only my birding lens. And, of course, I got very few birds at those places so this post is just a sample of some of those birds as well as a few in my yard. These first few are yard birds.

Inca Doves

Gila Woodpeckers, male and female

Northern Mockingbird

Curve-billed Thrasher

Orange-crowned Warbler

One of the places Karen and I went to was Arlington, full of agricultural fields, where Tony and I were in January (post).

Ferruginous Hawk

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Savannah Sparrow

Sandhill Cranes

We saw about 12 cranes, they were lifers for me, as were Brewer’s Blackbirds (no pic).

The following 3 shots were taken at a strange and not very attractive place called Robbins Butte Wildlife Area, run by Arizona Game and Fish Department. The sound of gunfire accompanied us. We did both get a lifer there called Bell’s Sparrow but neither of us got photos. We just saw it briefly and clearly through her scope and then it took off.

Northern Harrier

Western Meadowlark

Kestrel Nesting Box

We drove over to Lake Pleasant Regional Park in search of 2 particular rare waterbirds and found neither.

Rock Wren

Double-crested Cormorant

The other day Karen and I went to Seven Springs, where Tony and I went in December (post). It was cold, windy, raining and hailing and there were very few birds out. We did drive up Humboldt Mountain, where the FAA radar facility is, and it was a gorgeous drive on a narrow but paved road. Once again, I only had my birding lens so no photos. That is on my “return to” list.