Archive for Critters

More Backyard Birds

Curve Billed Thrasher

Today, like many Mondays, I went up on the knoll behind the house and replenished the bird feeders. We have a Seed Block Cage, a Bell Holder, two large Nyjer Seed Finch Feeders, a smaller Finch Feeder and a Songbird Seed Feeder.

After finishing up on the knoll, the usual avian customers came out to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I got out my Canon EOS with the 300mm zoom lens and captured these three up near the feeders. Top: Curve Billed Thrasher, Bottom Left: A Male Gambel’s Quail and Bottom Right: Abert’s Towhee. The latter of the three, we don’t see very often, but it was availing itself of some of the songbird seeds after it posed in a mesquite tree. Click on any image to enlarge.

Gambel’s Quail Abert’s Towhee

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Getting in the Christmas Spirit

Visiting Santa

On Sunday, Verna and I went down to Tractor Supply and bought a couple of 46lb sacks of dog food to donate to the K9 Konnection folks who rescue and repatriate lost and given up for adoption dogs in our area. They were in need of supplies for their kennels.

While we were there, we visited with Santa Claus, who was on hand to greet visitors and pose for photo. We took advantage and got this shot of us with Santa. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Harris’s Hawk

Hawk in Flight

Perched on Flagpole

I noticed a large bird in the Mesquite tree up by the bird feeders while doing dishes in the kitchen. I dried my hands, grabbed my camera and went out to see what it might be. I took the top photo while this juvenile Harris’s Hawk was in flight departing the bird feeder area.

The bottom photo is of another Harris’s Hawk perched on our flagpole. This bird does not have the juvenile speckled feathers on its breast. It flew off shortly after this photo and joined five other Harris’s hawks on the large power pole and wires across the road from our place. Harris’s Hawks hunt in groups two to seven birds. I guess we have a group that hunts locally now.

Click on either image to enlarge.

Wikipedia says this about these hawks:

This species occurs in relatively stable groups. A dominance hierarchy occurs in Harris’s hawks, wherein the mature female is the dominant bird, followed by the adult male and then the young of previous years. Groups typically include from 2 to 7 birds. Not only do birds cooperate in hunting, they also assist in the nesting process. No other bird of prey is known to hunt in groups as routinely as this species.

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Second Spring Butterfly

Second Spring Butterfly

Every year since we have been here in Arizona we have experienced what the locals (which includes us now) call “second spring.” Around the official end of summer (autumnal equinox) the temperatures become very spring-like and the flora and fauna react accordingly. Flowers open and butterflies and hummingbirds do their thing.

Late this afternoon, I saw a yellow-spotted black butterfly browsing the Red Bird of Paradise shrubs in the courtyard. I was in the great room at the time, so I grabbed my camera and headed out the front door. Luckily, the butterfly kept on doing what it was doing when I first saw it. I snapped a bunch of pictures of which this was probably the best. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Catch and Release



One of the little antelope ground squirrels in the area has been making itself a bit of a pest by digging up Verna’s bulbs and roots in the courtyard. Earlier today, I set up the Havahart small animal trap with a piece of bread and peanut butter for bait. It wasn’t more than a half hour later that Cabela let us know the trap had been sprung.

Ever since we unwittingly caught a cactus wren in a rat trap by the trash barrels, it has been our policy to catch and release the pests. We caught this little guy in the courtyard and released it at Tractor Supply, about a mile away. That should work to keep it away from Verna’s garden for a while.

Click on either image to enlarge.

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Low-Flying Turkey Buzzard

Turkey Buzzard

While we were outside today enjoying the warm spring weather, a turkey buzzard dropped down from its normal higher soaring altitude and buzzed the back yard. I got this shot with my Canon SL1 EOS and the 300mm telephoto lens.

We call them “buzzards,” but the nomenclature “vulture” is more official for Cathartes aura. This is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

The turkey vulture received its common name from the resemblance of the adult’s bald red head and its dark plumage to that of the male wild turkey, while the name “vulture” is derived from the Latin word vulturus, meaning “tearer”, and is a reference to its feeding habits. The word buzzard is used by North Americans to refer to this bird.

The bird didn’t stay long and swooped away on its quest for desert cadavers. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Early Spring

Early Spring

We have been fortunate to have had spring-like weather since mid-January. The cactus flowers are blooming and the desert critters are out and about acting as though it were spring.

In the composite photo above, a curve billed thrasher looks around while sitting atop one of the bird feeders, a courtyard cactus is having many flowers and a house finch is trying out the new bird feeder in the mesquite tree in the back yard.

Moving to Arizona was one of the best things we’ve ever done. Click on the image to enlarge.

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