Sunday, October 31, 2010

My beak is in the work

Costas Female, Photo by Ned Harris
White-winged Dove, Photo by Ned Harris
Some birds to know.

Friday, October 29, 2010

3 stripes

Once again, I need to correct a post. A poem, no less. I REALLY hope you didn't memorize the first version. It should be: Red on yellow (white), kill a fellow; red on black, venom lack. (I fixed it in the post, too.) This version with allow you to avoid the coral snake (venomous) and choose the mountain king snake (harmless) as your halloween accessory. Apologies for the potentially fatal confusion.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Canyon Tree Frog
Underwing Moth
Unicorn Mantis Nymph
Instead of standing out with their warning-I'm-yucky colors, these critters use the blending-in technique to avoid being eaten. Those who look more like their background survive to reproduce (and thus pass on their advantageous genetic code). As they sing in the hokey-pokey song: that's what it's all about.
All photos taken in Sabino Canyon by Ned Harris. If you haven't already spent a happy hour here, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Matt and I are two of the very few people who've seen a coral snake in Sabino Canyon. (Or in the 'wild' at all. Even "Reptile Guy" aka Tom at Tohono Chul asked for our photos for his presentations. And he's lived here a lot longer than we have.) We saw ours in 2008 on the Phoneline trail. As thin as a pencil, about a foot long or so, probably fully grown.

Coral Snake
Ned photographed this Mountain King Snake on Mt Lemmon. These snakes are probably an example of mimicry: "the similarity of one species to another which protects one or both." Basically, animals learned that coral snakes (not to mention gila monsters and other red/orange and black combos) are bad food choices, those mountain king snakes with the most of these colors were not preyed upon (as much, anyway). They survived to reproduce (as did the cautious animal who chose not to eat them or any other similarly-colored being). Evolution in a nutshell. Or a snake skin.

Mountain King Snake
One clever little rhyme I learned from a guy with a boa at one of the Tohono Chul events: "Red on Yellow (white), kill a fellow; Red on Black, venom lack." I say: My name is Anne Green and no snakes were harmed in the making of this message. (updated 10/29/10)

Anne makes the right choice in neck wear.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Western Banded Gecko, 6/2009
As the weather gets cooler, we won't be seeing as many of our herp friends in the canyon. I bring you, therefore, two herps I've had in my house. The gecko photo above was taken outside, after I moved one of my rainbarrels; but one of the same species was found two years ago in my daughter's room. Squeaked up a storm while being caught and put outside. The baby kingsnake was in my shower. No idea how or why. Anyone else have herps in the house?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting your burros straight

It took me quite a while to figure out the difference between burrobrush and burroweed (when one isn't blooming), despite various clever mnemonic devices. So I bring you some photos. Look at the links, too, for more photos and info. 
foreground: Burrobrush, background: Burroweed
foreground: BW; background (and barely discernable) BB
Burroweed: blooms in Fall, yellow flowers. Look now in the canyon. 
Burrowbrush; blooms in spring, tiny white flowers.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Take a walk to this one!

Photo by Matt, from Fall 2007
I recently pointed out this magnificent crested saguaro to Carol's sister, who was visiting from Florida. (No saguaros there!) I found this 'old' photo today, decided to post it, and ask for more recent versions (as I don't think I'm going to get my personal photographer out there any time soon). If you haven't already seen the best crested saguaro in Sabino Canyon, take a walk on the nature trail. (Yes, the 'lowly' nature trail, the first trail you come to from the main path).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yes, it's your business!

Is the re-growth of Arundo donax (Giant Reed) in the U.S. Forest Service Sabino Canyon Recreation Area your business?

Today, because of our volunteer-initiated Arundo eradication project, there are native trees like Arizona Walnut, Arizona Sycamore and Goodding Willow growing in creekside areas that over the course of 20 years had become totally dominated by non-native Arundo. This summer, naturalists ID’d 55 species of plants recolonizing Arundo infestations that volunteers had cut, treated and dug.

But the Arundo in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is only temporarily suppressed in most places. Arundo is an extremely resilient weed and is poised to return quickly. Sabino Arundo patches need to be treated with Rodeo herbicide throughout the growing season for the next 3-5 years. Otherwise, our 6,000 volunteer hours will have been wasted.

As Sabino Arundo volunteer coordinators, Jean and I have been urging the USFS Catalina District Ranger to carry out an effective, ongoing herbicide plan for the Arundo in Sabino Canyon. Some herbicide applications were made, but none of the plans were fully carried out on the ground as promised. 

Now it is up to you. If you prefer Sabino Canyon without Arundo killing the native riparian area, tell the U.S. Forest Service. If you see re-growth of Arundo, they are not keeping their promise.
Text and Photos (10/10/10) by Mark and Jean Hengesbaugh. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When is a hawk not a hawk?

Variegated Meadowhawk
Photo from Ned from 10/17/10
When it's a dragonfly, of course. According to this site from Alberta, this critter migrates here for the winter. Who knew?!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ned bags a bagworm

Photo by Ned Harris, 10/17/10 
Ned also sent this note from (loads of photos of all manner of 'bags'). "Larvae (bagworms) construct spindle-shaped bags covered with pieces of twigs, leaves, etc., and remain in them -- enlarging the bags as they grow -- until they pupate (also in the bag). Adult females remain in the bag, emitting pheromones which attract adult males to mate with them. Eggs are laid inside the bag, and when they hatch the larvae crawl away to begin construction of their own individual cases."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tom and Huck go fishin'!

Oh, shoot! Dropped my keys!
Got 'em!
Carol T and I decided to release our inner 8-year-old boy last week and stage this bit of potty humor. Yes, we call ourselves naturalists! (Photos by Anne with Carol's camera.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Exploding senna

photo by Matt (July 2010)
Desert Senna is another plant that explodes its seeds out of the pod - does the 'pop 'n drop'. You won't see flowers now, but you will see the dried and split seed pods. Shake one out. See what grows.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Exploding cotton

Photo by Matt Ball
I can't get enough of this plant - Desert Cotton, Wild Cotton - whatever you call it, it's a great bit of green. Look for the seed capsules - they do the 'pop 'n drop'. You may see some cotton fibers, too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saguaro: inside and out

Saguaro flowers by Matt Ball
Saguaro Seeds by Ned Harris
Saguaro skin by Ellen Green
Saguaro skeleton by Matt Ball

Monday, October 11, 2010

In their natural habitat?

Women's or Men's?

Photos by Carol Tornow 10/9/10
Make sure you're one of the lucky few to spot these canyon beauties before they disappear from view. Take a walk on the road today.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Don't smoke it!

Sacred Datura 10/09/10
Thanks to Angie P for this lovely photo from today's walk with Ned. According to Fireflyforest  "All parts of this plant are poisonous and contain toxic tropane alkaloids including hyoscyamine (an isomer of atropine) and scopolamine (hyoscine). The seeds are hallucinogenic, but ingestion can be fatal." Have some sunflower seeds instead. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't call this guy 'yellow'!

Yellow-bellied Bee Assassin, Photo from Ned Harris
According to, this bug "pounces on Honey Bees and other pollinating insects. It holds the captive in its powerful legs, thrusts its cutting beak into the victim's back, injects an immobilizing digestive agent, then sucks out the body juices." Yikes. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The canyon's zaniest grasshoppers

Panther-spotted Grasshoppers. Photos by Ned Harris from 10/6/10.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Now for some herps!

Canyon Tree Frog 9/28/10
Ornate Tree Lizard 9/28/10
How about that camouflage? Thanks to Angie P for both photos, taken on a walk with Gary TLG (The Lizard Guy). Tree frog was seen in frog cave, tree lizard near the dam bridge. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Getting serious about mountain lions

Mt. Lion at the Desert Museum, Photo by Ned Harris
I admit I had been feeling envious of everyone who's seen a mountain lion in Sabino Canyon. After talking to the Forest Service biologist on Friday, though, I understand that we shouldn't be seeing mountain lions in Sabino Canyon, and especially not close up. Unless we work to give the lions a decidedly negative encounter with humans, they are going to continue to come too close, someone is going to get hurt or killed, and then the lion will be trapped and killed. There are no other interventions. Trapping and relocating is not an option. Why not? Because there's no where to relocate a mountain lion who is unafraid of humans. No where.
If you see a mountain lion, throw rocks, if you can get them without bending down or breaking eye contact. Don't have rocks? Throw your water bottle. Throw your whistle. Throw your pack. Throw your ipod, if it comes to that. Make noise. Look big. Even the 2 cubs born this year are big enough to kill you. We have to teach them to be afraid.
Bottom line: If you want a photo of a mountain lion, go to the Desert Museum. Otherwise, look big, make noise, throw things. Your life (and theirs) depends on it. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Green is always 'in'!

Agnes, Alexa, Anne, Carol  9/28/10
Photo 'Patrol Beauties' by Maggie
You, too, can wear the badge of the Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol! Recruiting now for training in February 2011. Join us!