Archive for Home & Garden

Rainbow’s End

Rainbow’s End

Yesterday, we had some badly-needed rainfall here in the desert. It didn’t reach flash flood stage, but we got a fair amount of rain.

As the main part of the rain clouds passed to the northeast, conditions were perfect for a full double rainbow, horizon to horizon. I positioned myself to capture this photo of our house with the rainbow seemingly ending on it. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Mailbox Upgrade and Autumn Decor

Mailbox Upgrade and Autumn Decor

I finally got around to painting the milk can under the mailbox this week. I have had the paint since summer, but the instructions on the can said not to use it in temperatures above 85 degrees. Well, that isn’t possible until fall weather brings the temperatures down here in the desert. Anyhow, I painted it white this week as I have been wanting to do for a while now.

The next day, after the paint dried, I decorated it with faux sunflowers and a little scarecrow doll for the changing season. It now looks appropriate for Halloween and Thanksgiving. There will be poinsettias and Christmas decor after that. 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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Devil’s Tongue Cactus Flower

Cactus Flower

Our Devil’s Tongue cactus had its first open flower today. Flowers open during the Second Spring Arizona pseudo-season. I snapped this in the rock and cactus garden west of the house this morning. Several bees were busily competing for the nectar. One of them is visible in the photo.

Ferocactus latispinus is the binomial nomenclature for what is commonly called the Devil’s Tongue cactus. Wikipedia offers the following information about this cactus:

Ferocactus latispinus is a species of barrel cactus native to Mexico. It grows as a single globular light green cactus reaching the dimensions of 30 cm (12 in) in height and 40 cm (16 in) across, with 21 acute ribs. Its spines range from reddish to white in color and are flattened and reach 4 or 5 cm long. Flowering is in late autumn or early winter. The funnel-shaped flowers are purplish or yellowish and reach 4 cm long, and are followed by oval-shaped scaled fruit which reach 2.5 cm (1 in) long.

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Second Spring Flowers

Cholla Flower

Flower and Bee

The cholla cacti around the property have several late summer flowers opening. This usually means that our second spring has started with milder temperatures and more flowers to come. Click on either image to enlarge.

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New Birdhouse Location

Birdhouse New Location

Last Saturday evening we had a microburst monsoon event that toppled our little palo verde tree out front near the driveway. We recently posted about repairing and re-hanging the little birdhouse in that tree. Fortunately, when the tree toppled, the birdhouse was not damaged.

A neighbor helped us clean up the tree mess on Sunday morning; we cut it into pieces with a chain saw and put it on his trailer for transport to the green dump. Verna rescued the birdhouse and put it in the courtyard for the time being. There is no nest inside, so no birds were involved.

Today, we went up the hill behind the RV drive where we have the bird feeders. There is a nice little mesquite tree up there that was perfect for hanging the recovered birdhouse. I took the image above this afternoon while up on the hill out back. Click on the image to enlarge.

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