Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cue the animals...

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/23/2012

I'm beginning to suspect that Walt Tornow has the ability to cue animals in Sabino Canyon. Fortunately, Marty was on hand to capture another of Walt's sightings - this time a Black-tailed Rattlesnake. Mornings are now too cool for snakes, but they still like to come out when it's about 80+ degrees Fahrenheit. (I saw a Western Diamondback in late-November several years ago.) Be aware!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Owl-o-ween

Photos by Matt Ball 10/10/12

We took my "oldest" friend (i.e., friend I've known the longest - 31+ years) to the ASDM when she was visiting recently (from Michigan), and had perfect timing. The trainers were working with this 5-month-old barn owl in preparation for the Raptor Free Flight and let us stay to watch. This owl seemed reluctant to fly over us while we were standing, so we crouched down and waited. He zoomed about 2 inches from my friend's head! Very cool!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Red is for hummingbirds

Photo by Matt Ball 10/23/2012

Hummingbird banding is over for this year, and soon the feeders in the canyon will be taken down. Fortunately for those birds who stay year round, (not only are there plenty of feeders in the area, but also) there are sources of nectar in these aptly-named Hummingbird Trumpets (Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium). Page 129 in Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona by Frank S. Rose. If you don't already have this great book, pick it up at the Desert Museum, the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center bookstore, online, wherever you can! You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Welcome back to our Pal (fka) Luke

Photos by Marty Horowitz, 10/24/2012

His best side

Text from Mark Hengesbaugh:
We have got to change this white-patched Phainopepla's nickname from "Luke," for leucistic to "Pal," for Partial Albino. It turns out we've been using the wrong term, no question. See Sibley, Field Guide Western NA intro p. 13. In Partial Albino [phainopeplas], some of the feathers are pure white. In leucistic [phainopeplas], normal patterns are visible but all plumage is paler than normal, usually pale creamy brown. (paraphrasing).
So, it's "welcome back Pal." This is at least the 3rd year in a row he's come back to his territory near the corral.
And here's the evidence - in black and white!
2011 photo   2010 photo

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the meantime...

I need to take a week or so 'off' from doing the blog (very busy at work). In the meantime, take a look through the archives from:

There might be a quiz....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Green and glorious

This article in National Geographic is today's assigned reading. Enjoy!

Monday, October 15, 2012

More Butterflies

Dainty Sulphur

Ceraunus Blue

Both photos by Marty Horowitz; both butterflies on Wright Bee Flowers (Hymenothrix wrightii). All links from the always useful sites by T. Beth Kinsey.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Giant Swallowtail Salute

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/11/12

Marty assures me that this photo is unaltered. What a sight! Marty writes:
[T]hese are Giant Swallowtails, which have a single tail on each hind wing. However the first and second butterflies are each missing one of their tails, likely due to attacks by birds, demonstrating how their design lets them sacrifice a non-essential piece of themselves in order to survive, not unlike a lizard tail (but butterfly "tails" don't regenerate).

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Photo by Ned Harris 10/02/2012

Canyon Treefrog taking a potty break. Note the great camouflage.

Photo by Marty Horowitz

Gopher Snake taking a road trip.

Photo by Matt Ball 10/6/2012

A tiny Ornate Tree Lizard in the hand is worth not stepping on.
I don't recommend trying to catch lizards, but I needed to move this little one from a dangerous spot in my yard. Looked like s/he was playing dead, then scampered away in a hurry.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Katy did it!

Photo by Ned Harris 10/02/2012
Mexican Bush Katydid on Sweet Bush (Bebbia juncea var. aspera).

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Photos by Marty Horowitz 10/03/2012

Leda Ministreak

Gray Hairstreak

Both of these beauties are on Wild Cotton (Gossypium thurberi). 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Photo by Lyn Hart  10/01/2012

Taking her lunch break at the picnic tables by the visitor center, Lyn saw this Zebra-tailed Lizard hanging out. Didn't look too comfortable. She freed this little one and s/he scurried off. Lucky after all.
Be sure to check out Lyn's condor tapestry. Guess whose photo she used as the model?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

66 degrees of Ned Harris

At long last, the 2nd edition of Hawks in Flight is out! This new edition has 66 pics from our favorite photographer of photogenic flyers, Ned Harris. Whoo hoo!

Monday, October 8, 2012


Photos by Matt Ball 9/1/2012

The largest, most lush lantana blooming in full glory off the trail that parallels the parking lot. What's up with that? Anyone know how this non-native grew to be such a tremendous specimen?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Morning Glory Trail

Photo by Matt Ball 9/22/2012

These beautiful Bird's Foot Morning Glories (Ipomoea ternifolia var. leptotoma) were lined up nicely on the Phoneline link trail.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Neither wire nor lettuce

Close-up photo by Matt Ball 9/22/2012

These delicate flowers on thin stems are easy to overlook. They are called Wire Lettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora). (I'm not making this up!) In the Sunflower family (Asteraceae).

Friday, October 5, 2012

Enter carefully

Photo by Matt Ball 9/22/2012

This is most likely the nest of a Cactus Wren; and it's definitely in a Teddybear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii). These chollas generally grow on the hillsides and reproduce asexually; a piece will fall off (or get caught on a hiking animal) and take root. Teddybear Chollas in the same area are usually clones.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ivyleaf Morning Glory

Photo by Ned Harris 9/17/2012
This Ivyleaf Morning Glory (Ipomoea hederacea) is winding around some kind of grass (and you're on your own with grasses); note that the stalk on the left is not part of this plant. I'm often asked why plants of the same species are different sizes. Just like animals, access to nutrients is key. Unlike animals, though, plants can't move. Plants have to make it where they are, and some locations are better than others!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Different perspective

Photo by Matt Ball 9/1/2012
Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) from above.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Scarlet Creeper

Photo by Ned Harris 9/17/2012

Scarlet Creeper (Ipomoea cristulata) is in the Morning Glory family (Convolvulaceae). The flowers are  about the size of a dime or smaller. There are quite a few plants along the Bear Canyon bridge.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tumamoc Globeberry

Photos by Tom Skinner 9/3/2012
Tom Skinner showed Mark Hengesbaugh this Tumamoc Globeberry (Tumamoca macdougalii) when they were out surveying Arundo regrowth. Javelinas like the berries.