Monday, April 30, 2012

Twin Seed

Photo by Ned Harris 4/25/2012
As usual, I asked Ned to take loads of photos on his last Nature Walk of the season. As usual, he captured some amazing beauty, including this Twin Seed (Dicliptera resupinata). (We saw all four of the plants on 'the list' in the Acanthus Family, in fact. Still need a photo of Carlowrightia, though. Anyone?)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Roadrunner chicks

Photo by Ned Harris 4/25/2012
Title sounds like a girls' running team! There really are Greater Roadrunner chicks in this photo, though. Click on the photo for a larger view. The adult (mom, I think) is on the left, and there are two beaks on the right, one shows more of the head than the other. Although in a tree quite close to the road, this nest is very well camouflaged.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Asparagus Stalk

Photo by Angie Perryman 4/24/12
Take a look at the many Golden-flowered Agaves aka Century Plants (Agave chrysantha) that are sending up stalks and you'll see why they are in the Asparagus Family.

Friday, April 27, 2012

In the Phlox Family

Photo by Kenne Turner 4/20/2012
Once you notice these flowers, you'll see them all around. Miniature Wool(ly) Stars (Eriastrum diffusum) are sometimes individual blossoms, sometimes in small clumps like the photo. The flowers are smaller than a dime and about 3 inches high, maximum. Look low and look often.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rattle, rattle

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/21/2012
This Western Diamondback was seen on a butterfly walk. (Didn't get the memo.) As you are out and about in temperatures over 80 degrees, watch where you put your feet and hands. Snakes of all kinds are out and about as well. And they don't have feet or hands.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/21/2012
Many saguaros are already blooming. The one pictured above is getting ready. Aren't the buds beautiful?!
If you said: Goodding Willow for the cottony 'snow' from yesterday's post, you sneeze!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Looks like snow!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/21/2012
It's time for another quiz! From which plant does this 'snow' blow? Answer in tomorrow's post!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Deer in the willows


Photos and Text from Mark Hengesbaugh:

Sabino’s native white-tailed deer don’t eat the invasive Arundo donax (Giant Reed), but now that we’ve cleared out the Arundo thicket at the dam they can get to the tasty Goodding willows.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Packrat and Prickly Pear

Photo by Walt Thomas
Packrats are rarely seen as they are nocturnal and quite secretive. They do like eating prickly pear pads, though. Note the teeth marks. Packrats 'nibble'; javelina usually bite and pull, leaving 'threads' behind. (Try the javelina method with celery and you'll see what I mean.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bottoms up!

Photo by Fred Fisher 
Bees on New Mexico thistle.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Staghorn blossom

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/17/2012
Staghorn Chollas (Cylindropuntia versicolor) are blooming. The species designation 'versicolor' refers to the fact that the flower color can vary: yellow, red, orange, pink, copper, green. You get the idea.
If you are interested in  looking up what scientific names mean, try the Botanary (botanical dictionary). Type the name in the search box in the upper right.
And if you are interested in the mathematics of plant growth, Smith College has great resources.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spiny workout

Photos by Marty Horowitz 4/17/2012

This Desert Spiny lizard chose an equally spiny cholla stem for some chin-ups and push-ups. Don't try this at home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nice looking monster!

Photo by Bob Wenrick 4/10/12
Gila Monster seen in the riparian area above the dam.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hummingbird Banding

Photos by Mark Hengesbaugh 4/7/2012

Elissa places a hummingbird on a ready hand.
The next banding in Sabino Canyon is Saturday, 4/21. See the schedule for all area sites here. And read more about the Network here!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The biggest bee you'll ever see

Photo by Ned Harris 4/4/2012
We saw this quarter-sized bee on the nature walk with Ned and Friends of Ned. Thanks to Margarethe Brummerman for the id of this male Carpenter Bee. (I call him a hum-bee.) Be sure to click here for photos she took the same day. Here for her insect blog. And here for her great watercolor art.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Two Tigers

Photo by Bob Wenrick 4/11/2012

Tiger Whiptails are usually found in the lower canyon. If you see a whiptail in the area around the visitor center, you can be reasonably certain it's a Tiger.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Red-spotted Toad

Photo by Fred Fisher 3/28/2012
Great spotting by Fred Fisher of this Red-spotted Toad.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A new snake

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh
This non-venomous Long-nosed Snake was seen on their patio steps, but Jean and Mark live near Sabino Canyon, so we're going to say: close enough.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

G is for Greater Earless

Photo by Ned Harris, 3/28/2012
It's time again to refresh our memories about lizards! The Greater Earless and Zebra-tailed lizards look similar and both wag their zebra-striped tails. Look at the two bands on their sides. If the bands are near the groin (see above) remember: G for groin, G for Greater Earless. If the bands are near the armpit, remember: A for armpit means A Zebra-tailed lizard. In general, you'll see Zebra-tailed in the lower canyon (visitor center to dam, roughly) and the Greater Earless in the upper canyon; but they don't always stick to their areas.
I recommend this site: Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona, for those interested in more info about these amazing animals.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's a halo!

Photo by Peggy Wenrick 4/10/2012

On the plant walk yesterday, we saw (among many other things) this ring around the sun. One was spotted in Sydney Australia last month. According to this weather service site, a complete ring is called a halo; if there are only two spots on either side, it's a sun dog:

In ages past, the huge rings or haloes around the sun or the moon were thought to portend everything from storms to great personal disasters. We now know that they are the optical result of the refraction of light from the sun or moon by ice crystals in the very high cloud (25,000 feet or higher) called cirrus or cirrostratus. On occasion, only two bright spots on either side of the sun can be seen. These are known as sun dogs and are caused when the ice crystals occur in a certain uniform arrangement.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pipevine and those who eat it

Photo by Ned Harris, 4/2/2012; Hand by Fred Heath
The Pipevine plant (Aristolochia watsonii) is the host plant of caterpillars of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. The photo below is what those weird-looking red and black caterpillars will turn into.

Photo by Bob Wenrick 4/4/2012
This Pipevine Swallowtail has landed on a Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii).

Monday, April 9, 2012


All Photos by Bob Wenrick 4/4/2012
Funereal Duskywing on Odora (Porophyllum gracile).

Marine Blue on a Cryptantha species.

Spring Azure on Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla).

Just hangin' around..
UPDATE: This is a Fatal Metalmark. (Maybe that's why it's upside down.) Still on remains of a Silverpuff (Uropaapus lindleyi).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bell's Vireo making nest

Photo by Bob Wenrick 4/4/2012

Photo by Bob Wenrick 4/4/2012

Photo by Ned Harris 4/4/2012
We saw this Bell's Vireo on the Wednesday Nature Walk with Ned and Friends of Ned. The nest is very near the table for the hummingbird banding. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

That's a bloomin' hedgehog!

Photo by Ned Harris 4/2/2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Coming soon...butterflies

Photo by Ned Harris 3/28/2012
This pile is composed of caterpillars (the larval stage) of the Mourning Cloak butterfly. Thanks, Fred, for spotting and identifying.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hedgehog in Bloom

Photo by Ned Harris, 4/4/2012
You don't have to go far to see a hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus fasciculatus) in bloom. There are several around the visitor center. Go check them out!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Three Borages

Photo by Matt Ball  3/22/2012

From left to right: Wild Heliotrope Phacelia distans (purple); Cryptantha, likely Cryptantha barbigera (white); and Fiddleneck Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia (yellow-orange). These are all in the Borage Family (Boraginaceae), are spring (Feb-Apr) bloomers, and have flowers on curved stalks.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fruiting Hop Bush

Photo by Matt Ball 3/22/2012
These are the fruits of the Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscosa), not the flowers. Aren't they spectacular?!

Monday, April 2, 2012


Photo by Matt Ball 3/22/2012

Fleabane (aka Spreading Fleabane) Erigeron divergens is in the Sunflower family (Asteraceae).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Baby Hummers

Photo by Matt Ball 3/31/2012
Saw the nest a few weeks ago - mom (Anna's Hummingbird, I'm pretty sure. The nest is the right size, too.) was chittering around me as I was doing yard work. Then I noticed two tiny bills sticking up. Then both heads. What's that black stuff on the left, you ask? Hummingbird poop. It's a beautiful nest, though. Well hidden, too.
If you are interested in seeing hummingbirds up close and personal, the next banding in Sabino Canyon is Saturday 4/7. We start at sunrise (c. 6am this weekend) and continue 5 hours. Come early for the best viewing opportunity. Hummingbirds have to eat immediately after 'waking' and they know where the feeders are!